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National Department of Public Works vs. Fani and 77 Others - (08 Apr 2024)

Condonation applications are not a matter of formality, applicant must provide a proper explanation of the causes of the delay and explain each of the periods of delay

Civil

The Appellant was granted leave to appeal an order of the High Court. In terms of that order, the high court declared unlawful the Appellant’s demolition of the Respondents’ homes on the property, and directed the Appellant to restore their homes. The appeal, however, has lapsed due to the Appellant’s failure to file the appeal record and heads of argument timeously. The Appellant seeks condonation of this failure and reinstatement of the appeal.

Condonation applications are not a matter of formality. There is an onus on the applicant to provide a full and satisfactory explanation for its failure to comply with the Rules of this Court. This court has recently confirmed the following requirements for reinstatement of a lapsed appeal: ‘(a) The applicant must provide a proper explanation of the causes of the delay and explain each of the periods of delay. (b) It is not sufficient for an applicant to set out a number of generalised causes without an attempt to relate them to the time-frame of its default or to enlighten the court as to the materiality and effectiveness of any steps taken . . . to achieve compliance with the Rules at the earliest reasonable opportunity. (c) The court has a discretion which the applicant must show should be exercised in its favour.

The appellant has failed to explain the whole period of delay and in any case, the explanation proffered was unreasonable. The effects of the delay in filing the record on the administration of justice and the respondents is self-evident. Their homes were demolished during the national lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The respondents say that most of them are in desperate need of reconstruction of their homes. The delay is inordinate and improperly explained. The opposition to the application for condonation is justified. It is prejudicial to the administration of justice to condone the appellant’s inexplicable dilatory conduct, while the respondents have been rendered homeless since the demolition of their structures in July 2020. In the circumstances, it is not in the interests of justice to grant condonation.

Tags : DELAY   CONDONATION   ENTITLEMENT  

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