Answer to a question from a reader

Is it legal for law enforcement agencies to confiscate my building materials after demolishing my shack?

The short answer

No, it is not legal.

The long answer

In 2020, the Western Cape High Court granted an interim order for the City of Cape Town to return building materials confiscated by the Anti-Land Invasion Unit (ALIU) when it demolished shacks in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, saying that evictions and demolishing shacks without a court order were illegal under the lockdown.

SD Law reports that the city appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal, arguing that all the demolished structures during that period were unoccupied and that it was entitled to demolish them. The City said that all confiscated building materials were stored for 21 days before being disposed of, and that the land occupiers were entitled to make arrangements to collect their building materials from its depot in Ndabeni.

Now that the lockdown has been lifted since 5 April 2022, it is still not legal to confiscate building materials, as the constitution says no one can simply be deprived of their property. 

But what happens when shacks are demolished is that the building materials are just loaded up and dumped at the ALIU offices, and it seems that these confiscated building materials are kept for 21 days to a month before being disposed of.

You may want to consult the following organisation for advice and help:

Legal Resources Centre



Cape Town: 021 879 2398

Johannesburg: 011 038 9709

Durban: 031 301 7572

Makhanda: 046 622 9230

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 16, 2022, 6:56 p.m.

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