Cape homeless: Lawyer says Sea Point activist’s case against him is flawed
Cape Town - A City lawyer has dismissed an application for a protection order against him by a woman activist known for helping the homeless in Sea Point as “flawed and vexatious”.
Fund-raising co-ordinator for the Souper Troopers non-profit organisation that feeds the homeless in the Sea Point area, Caryn Gootkin, filed the application against attorney Gary Trappler at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court.
The case will be heard on January 20.
In her application Gootkin, a freelance writer, copy editor and mother of two, said: “The respondent has called me names such as an anarchist and anti-establishment. The plain and direct meaning of these terms is that I support the idea that people must not recognise authority in order to create or abide by a state of disorder.
“These words are extremely hurtful and caused me mental and psychological harm. The respondent is pursuing a discourse that implies that I am responsible, along with Souper Troopers, for causing and perpetuating homelessness, anti-social behaviour and crime.”
“For years Souper Troopers has publicly asked the City of Cape Town and its law enforcement arm to treat homeless people with dignity and compassion. We have encouraged people fortunate enough to live in comfortable homes to stand up against the fining and harassment of those who have no choice but to live on the streets,” said Gootkin.
Gootkin said she fears that as a result of Trappler’s posts and emails, she and her family will suffer a backlash similar to the violence suffered by Peter Wagenaar whose car, from which he used to feed the homeless of Sea Point, was petrol-bombed and burnt to a shell.
However, in an answering affidavit, Trappler said: “As an officer of the court I feel duty-bound to highlight the flaws in the application which should result in the matter being dismissed with costs to Gootkin.”
Trappler said the onus was on Gootkin to prove that his social media posts and letters would cause harm and that his conduct itself caused harm or inspired the reasonable belief of harm.
“I am perfectly entitled to write expressing my views, in fact such a right is constitutionally guaranteed,” said Trappler.
“I am a well-known attorney and community member on the Atlantic Seaboard. I am also a member of various community safety organisations and have represented interest groups in court,” said Trappler.
“Gootkin and I have a strong ideological disagreement on how best to deal with the increasing homelessness problem in Cape Town, specifically the CBD, City Bowl and the Atlantic Seaboard. This is the root of Gootkin’s case,” said Trappler.
Trappler’s affidavit said he believed in the City’s “policy and approach to dealing with the homeless by channelling funds to shelters instead of giving directly to the homeless.