There are around 767 “legal matters” involving the City, of which 37 cases were concluded in the Western Cape High court, costing the City around R19 million. Picture: Laille Jack/African News Agency
Cape Town - There are around 767 “legal matters” involving the City, of which 37 cases were concluded in the Western Cape High court, costing the City around R19 million.

These legal matters were instituted between January 1, 2016, and September 23 this year.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “On some matters we are still awaiting advice and instructions on how best to proceed.

“This is why I am referring to legal ‘matters’ as opposed to ‘court cases’.

“Also, in some matters the City is the respondent, in others we are the applicant, and in some we are cited as a third or fourth party given that the City represents the third sphere of government and needs to be cited as a party in terms of prevailing legislation or court processes.”

Tyhalibongo said it was vital that the public understood that the City had no control over how long it took for a legal matter to be concluded. Of the 37 cases, six have been withdrawn, six have resulted in judgment granted against the City, 10 have resulted in judgment in favour of the City and 15 have been settled.

The most recent highly-publicised case is one involving the municipality and a group of homeless people over the issuing of fines.

Seven homeless people filed a contempt of court application against the City, after law enforcement and Cape Town Central City Improvement District officials continued to issue fines to the seven applicants and remove their possessions, despite agreeing to cease doing so pending a hearing in December.

Social Justice Coalition (SJC) secretary general Axolile Notywala: “I think this is mainly because people are disgruntled towards the City and people are seeking justice from the courts because of this unhappiness.”

In 2016, the SJC dragged the City to court over inadequate sanitation services in poor areas.

“These legal matters pending involving the City is a reflection of their failure to deliver proper and decent services to the people.”

ANC city caucus leader Xolani Sotashe said: “Everything in the City is regressing and the level of arrogance the City has is very disturbing.

“We are almost sure that there are more cases than this, either including the City or against the City. So we are not surprised.”

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Cape Argus