Miss Irene Grootboom was one of a group of 390 adults and 510 children living in appalling circumstances in Wallacedene, an informal housing settlement in Cape Town. In September 1998, they illegally occupied land near the settlement which had been earmarked for low-cost housing. They were forcibly evicted, their shacks bulldozed and burnt and their possessions destroyed. They could not return to their original settlement as their former homes had been occupied by others. In desperation they settled in Wallacedene sports field and in an adjacent community hall. The Legal Resources Centre, an NGO based in Cape Town, together with other legal activists decided to use their case to test the enforceability of their constitutional right to housing. The Grootboom case, as it was widely known, has been described as a landmark case in the struggle for citizenship rights in post-apartheid South Africa.
This chapter uses the Grootboom case to argue that the inauguration of formal democracy in 1994 in South Africa has not led to basic constitutional rights being translated into the de facto daily lived experience of ordinary people. Owing to copyright restrictions, only the first 3 pages are attached, together with a link to the book at Zed Books.
Williams, J. J. The Grootboom case and the constitutional right to housing: the politics of planning in post-apartheid South Africa. In: Inclusive Citizenship: Meanings and Expressions. N Kabeer (ed.). Zed Books, London, UK (2005) ISBN 9781842775486