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Call for answers over removal of homeless from opposite Somerset West police station

Community activists in Macassar and Strand have demanded answers from the City on the recent alleged removal of a group of homeless people. Picture:

Community activists in Macassar and Strand have demanded answers from the City on the recent alleged removal of a group of homeless people. Picture:

Published Sep 6, 2021

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Cape Town - Community activists in Macassar and Strand are demanding answers from the City over the recent removal of a group of homeless people who lived opposite the Somerset West police station.

The activists allege that there were no proper consultations or engagements with the group and fear that they were removed against their will.

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Community leader Christiaan Steward said the group returned from the Strandfontein homeless shelter camp established at the sports complex last year.

“We would like to find out where they have been relocated to by the City and when was this decision made. We also would like to find out who were the sponsors of these homeless individuals, who was behind this and why there were no proper consultations or engagements with them.

“During heavy rains no one bothered to relocate them and when there was snow on the mountains no one cared, why only now? It's really unreasonable for the City to treat homeless families in a way that's discriminatory and inhumane.

“These by-laws discriminating against homelessness must be challenged as people become homeless for various reasons,” he said.

Niklaas Thyssen said they have also noted the amendments made to the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances by-law which among others could get a homeless person fined for refusing a reasonable offer of alternative shelter.

“We are told every now and then that there are open bed spaces in shelters and that homeless people refuse shelter, which should be investigated.

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“There must be a fair and reasonable process, taking into account the people's dignity and their human rights when such things are carried out.

“We have recently seen the City evicting homeless people using its discriminatory by-laws with no care for them and issuing fines which are not a sustainable solution to homelessness,” he said.

Thyssen said proper engagements with various stakeholders and community leaders were needed to come up with proper solutions in handling homelessness in the city.

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The City's Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said no person was moved from the site. He said the City’s Law Enforcement Department issued 12 Section 56 notices – as per the Streets and Public Places By-law of 2007 – to the group.

“The City’s Social Development Department engaged with the street people on a regular basis and rendered assistance in terms of their reintegration protocols, but they have turned down the social assistance offered,” he said

Dyason said relocation of street people was done voluntarily and that they were not forced to relocate into night shelters or to safe spaces.

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