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Activists slam City of Cape Town’s proposed amendments to homeless people by-laws

Homeless in District Six begins to erect makeshift tents



  • Activists say the proposed amendments to metropolis by-laws will criminalise homelessness.
  • Mayor Dan Plato mentioned in April that the City responded to 1 107 complaints from residents associated to people residing on the road.
  • Ndifuna Ukwazi lately introduced its intention to take the City to court docket to problem the constitutionality of two of the City’s municipal by-laws. 

Homeless and housing activists have lambasted the City of Cape Town over its proposed amendments to by-laws relating to Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances.

Activists warned the proposed amendments would criminalise homelessness and enhance the powers of regulation enforcement officers, making the arrest of the homeless a lot simpler. 

The proposed amendments included the removing of any obstruction, arrest of an individual, who commits an offence in phrases of the by-law, and the ability to arrest somebody might solely be exercised in respect of a violation of part 2(3)(m) if the particular person has refused to settle for a suggestion of different shelter.

The proposed amendments are open for public remark till the top of June.

Ndifuna Ukwazi legal professional Jonty Cogger mentioned the amendments have been related to the by-laws the City sought to introduce final year, which Ndifuna Ukwazi vehemently objected towards.

Cogger mentioned:

The City of Cape Town is now once more decided to enhance its energy to take away road people from all public locations, arrest them for residing on the streets, and confiscate personal supplies used for shelter and livelihood.

He mentioned the ability to arrest somebody with out shelter straight and explicitly criminalised homelessness.

“This is a significant increase of power compared to the current street by-law, which only empowers law enforcement to impose compliance notices and issue fines.”

READ | ‘It’s gone from worse to unacceptable’: Cape Town residents increase issues as homeless numbers develop

Ndifuna Ukwazi introduced its intention to take the City to court docket to problem the constitutionality and discriminatory influence of two of its municipal by-laws – the by-law relating to Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances (2007) and the Integrated Waste Management By-law (2009).

Eleven homeless people have joined Ndifuna Ukwzi’s application.

In April alone, the City mentioned it responded to 1 107 complaints from residents associated to people residing on the road.

Safety and Security Portfolio Committee chairperson Mzwakhe Nqavashe mentioned he was conscious of the criticism.

“We have been accused of using our streets and public spaces by law to prevent people from taking shelter. The clause in the by-law is actually to ensure that open spaces are meant to be public, to be available for all to use and not to be reserved by people. The same legislation applies in other municipalities as well.” 

Carin Rhoode Gelderbloem, one of the candidates within the constitutional problem towards the City, mentioned the amendments would make their lives even worse.

“It means that we won’t even be able to walk down the street without the threat of being arrested. There simply aren’t enough shelter beds in Cape Town for someone to comply with this by-law.

“What does the City of Cape Town anticipate will occur when all road people have a prison file or are in jail? How will this resolve the complexities of homelessness in Cape Town? This by-law modification has been launched to serve the wealthy.”

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U-turn Homeless Ministries CEO Jonathan Hopkins said the proposed changes to the by-laws would not be a deterrence nor discourage people from living on the street.

“This utterly misunderstands the causes of homelessness.”

He added that such law enforcement powers would be a costly exercise that would makes the long-term situation worse as it would further erode trust between people experiencing homelessness and those in authority.

“This will make our rehabilitation work even more durable and can additional exacerbate ranges of continual homelessness in our metropolis. Homelessness is a really seen, however a really solvable drawback. We want to put our collective effort, experience and resources behind options that work – moderately than issues that merely preserve the established order and even make the state of affairs worse.”

But the City maintained other municipalities had even stricter by-laws and prohibitions.

“Why are other municipalities not being challenged like this in any way?” Nqavashe requested.



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