11 October 2021 – Latest developments in the SAHRC v City of Cape Town matter

The South African Human Rights Commission v City of Cape Town matter is before the Western Cape High Court today for hearing. The hearing takes place before a full bench of three judges. This hearing is a continuation of the proceedings that commenced on 25 and 26 March 2021. The South African Human Rights Commission, the Housing Assembly and Mr Bulelani Qolani, along with the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Residents of Emfuleni (applicants) and Abahlali base Mjondolo (amicus curiae), have all previously made oral submissions to the court. 

While it was anticipated that from 11 to 14 October 2021 the proceedings will resume for the court to hear oral submissions from the City of Cape Town, the Department of Human Settlements, the South African Police Services and the Office of the Premier, all parties recently learned that the spouse of one of the judges is employed by the City of Cape Town as a director in the city’s transport division. This position had not been disclosed to the parties before the proceedings commenced.  

All the applicants take the view that such a disclosure should have been made before the proceedings commenced. As a result, they hold the view that by virtue of the non-disclosure, there is reasonable perception of bias on the part of the judge who had not disclosed such information. Consequently, all applicants have brought an application seeking the recusal of the judge. All the respondents and amicus curiae do not believe, under the circumstances, that there would be any perceived or actual bias on the part of the judge and take the view that the proceedings should resume accordingly. 

Today’s proceedings will therefore commence with a hearing of the recusal application.