Any Room for the Poor? Forced Evictions in Johannesburg, South Africa

This report is the product of a three-month fact-finding mission conducted by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). COHRE is an international NGO which focuses on the right to adequate housing, and has a Secretariat in Switzerland and Program offices in Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand, the US and Australia. COHRE has official consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the African Union (AU) and the Council of Europe (CoE). In the course of 2003, COHRE became concerned at a spate of press reports of evictions in and around the city of Johannesburg. COHRE had previously been monitoring deteriorating housing rights conditions, coupled with widespread forced evictions in a number of key African cities (including Lagos, Nairobi, Luanda, Dakar, Cairo and Accra). The addition of Johannesburg - regarded by many as potentially the model African city - to this growing list, would be a major setback in attempts to turn the tide of housing rights violations and forced evictions in Africa. For this reason it was important to obtain an objective assessment of the situation in Johannesburg. COHRE therefore held discussions with a number of community and human rights groups concerned with housing policy and eviction practices in Johannesburg, and also with contacts in the relevant government departments, and was prompted to initiate an investigation to establish the facts of the situation.