New occupation regulations announced as “the return to apartheid”
CAPE TOWN – The adoption by the City of the by-law on illegal occupations, as well as the updates to the by-law on streets, public places and the prevention of noise pollution, have been described as “a return to the era of ‘apartheid, a legacy of discrimination’.
The Council gave the green light to the controversial regulations on Wednesday following unanimous approval by the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee earlier this month.
Civil rights activists protested outside the Cape Town Civic Center on Wednesday, claiming the laws would criminalize people living on the streets and in the city’s informal settlements.
The new, updated street bylaw states that a person found sleeping in a public place without permission will receive a notice of compliance.
“They will be offered another refuge, such a person only commits an offense if he refuses a reasonable offer from another refuge. A court cannot sentence a culprit to prison. This can only impose a fine on the person, ”says the regulation.
The illegal occupancy by-law states that authorities could dismantle the structure and seize the occupant’s property if it is on land under the control of the City or if the structure is “not yet capable of constituting a house. »On another ground.
Those found guilty of breaking the rules face fines or jail time.
The housing pressure group, the Ndifuna Ukwazi Legal Center, is currently challenging the city’s regulations on its streets, representing people in three cases – 46 occupants of District 6, 21 occupants of the Green Point Tennis Club and repeated raids on 11 homeless in the City Bowl. , also known as the Gelderbloem case.
As council voted on the settlements yesterday, District 6’s case was heard as an urgent matter in court and the city submitted a substantial challenge to the judge in the case.
Ndifuna Ukwazi’s lawyer Jonty Cogger said: “The regulations are seriously regressive for our constitutional democracy. They confirm the power to expel someone without a court decision.
“It is a return to the apartheid era when the government had free rein to the oppressed with impunity. The fact that the Council saw fit to return to those days is astounding.
“We have received instructions from our clients in the Gelderbloem case to ban and challenge the amended streets law not to see the light of day.”
Cogger said the law unfairly discriminates against people, making it harder for them to survive in already vulnerable situations.
Reclaim The City said it would be no different from forced evictions seen in history.
Development Action Group (DAG) project officer Ryan Fester said passing the bylaw would have a negative effect on the homeless population and called for adequate shelter in the city center, s it was being implemented.
“Adequate opportunities must be made available for the reintegration of the homeless into society. This includes drug or alcohol rehabilitation and livelihood opportunities.
“There is no clear indication of what will happen to a homeless person who is denied access by the shelter because they are drunk, battling drugs or displaying aggressive behavior,” Fester said. .
ANC caucus spokeswoman Fiona Abrahams and her party voted against the settlement. She said the city’s public participation was just a tick in the box.
She demanded that every councilor who voted for the regulations be criminally charged because “they constitute an attack on human rights”.
However, the Chairman of the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee, Mzwakhe Nqavashe, denied Abrahams’ statement that the ANC was part of the committee that reviewed this settlement and accepted the city’s proposal.
Good secretary general Brett Herron said there was no emphasis on welfare.
“Here, the police are carrying out raids and operations to confiscate the meager possessions of the homeless, allegedly including their identity documents, and to drive them out of the city. The regulations legalize this behavior, ”he said.
Cape Town Hours