City criticised for ‘inhumane’ eviction
THE City has come under fire for evicting and issuing fines to 21 people who had been living in tents and informal structures on a piece of vacant land next to the Green Point tennis court for over a year.
The evicted group, now represented by the Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre (NULC), said they were in the process of approaching the Western Cape High Court for an order directing the City to return their belongings.
The matter also comes on the back of homeless people lodging applications with the high court and the Equality Court, arguing that the City’s by-laws were unconstitutional and discriminated against them.
“During the inhumane eviction, law enforcement officers forced occupiers out of their homes and ordered them to remove their possessions before they dismantled tents, demolished homes and confiscated occupiers’ personal belongings.
“Many occupiers lost personal effects, including identity documents, drivers’ licenses, clinic and medication cards, without which they will be unable to access social support grants or obtain chronic medication,” the NULC said. “Some occupiers were physically and verbally assaulted by law enforcement officers, including one woman who was tackled to the ground and threatened with arrest after she asked an official to produce an eviction order.”
Law enforcement officers allegedly issued the occupiers with fines of R300, citing that they were in contravention of the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law, 2007. Green Point Ratepayers’ Association co-chairperson Liz Knight said they were not very familiar with the matter, but had received requests for assistance daily from businesses with regard to “encroachment”.
“We do not have a position on the matter, but we do receive many requests from businesses in the area on how to deal with the encroachment – whether it’s security, environmental or social,” Knight said.
“We then guide them on the City’s policies, the challenges the City faces and provide the contact addresses of who they can appeal to to find solutions. We try to encourage people to be compassionate and understand the social issues we are facing; we don’t encourage extremism.”
Knight added that they assisted social development field workers with funds for IDs, shelters, soup kitchens and bus fare in instances of reintegration, which would see a homeless person move back to his or her family.
Attorney for the occupiers Danielle Louw said the eviction was “inhumane”.
“Many have suffered from evictions after losing their jobs, livelihoods and homes as a result of the economic devastation brought about by the Covid19 pandemic. The City’s illegal actions have left the occupiers destitute and without alternative accommodation.
“This forced displacement of vulnerable people, amid the peak of Cape Town’s third wave of Covid-19 infections, exposes the City’s lack of sustainable solutions for dealing with people who experience homelessness.”
The City had not responded to requests for comment by deadline.