MEDIA STATEMENT – CASE HEARING IN SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL
 
Buffalo City Municipality v Will Gauss and Another

Supreme Court of Appeal -5/04 Hearing date: 19 November 2004
  Judgment date: 2 December 2004
Expropriation – Municipal Ordinance (Cape) 20 of 1974 – whether owner entitled to be heard before preliminary steps taken by local authority.

Media Summary of Judgment

From: The Registrar, Supreme Court of Appeal

THE BUFFALO CITY MUNICIPALITY v WILLY GAUSS AND THE PREMIER : EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE

Please note that the media summary is intended for the benefit of the media and does not form part of the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

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The Supreme Court of Appeal today (Thursday) upheld an appeal against a decision of the Eastern Cape High Court which had earlier set aside a decision of the Buffalo City Municipality to expropriate land for the expansion of an informal settlement.

The owner of the land had applied to the High Court to set aside the municipality’s decision aside because the municipality had not afforded him a hearing before the decision was taken. The High Court held that the owner had been prejudiced by the decision and that he was thus entitled to be heard before the decision was taken.

In overturning that decision the SCA said that the decision by the municipality did not deprive the owner of his property because it was ineffective without the approval of the Premier of the Eastern Cape. It was not disputed that the owner of the property had been given ample opportunity to voice his objections before the Premier decided whether or not to grant his approval (the Premier had not yet made a decision by the time the matter came to court). The only effect of the decision taken by the municipality was to restrict the owner of the property from dealing with the property until that decision was made and it was no unfair to impose those restrictions without first hearing the owner.

Accordingly the decision of the municipality was lawful and it ought not to have been set aside.