Ndifuna Ukwazi approached the Western Cape High Court last week, for an order compelling the City to return the tents and other materials it had confiscated. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
Ndifuna Ukwazi approached the Western Cape High Court last week, for an order compelling the City to return the tents and other materials it had confiscated. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

City of Cape Town vs Green Point homeless case delayed as judge asks for time

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Sep 1, 2021

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Cape Town - The case between the City and an advocacy group, Ndifuna Ukwazi, about the Green Point homeless has been postponed to Friday as Acting Judge Tessa le Roux said she needed more time to read the relevant documents and consider arguments.

This after Ndifuna Ukwazi approached the Western Cape High Court last week for an order compelling the City to return the tents and other materials it had confiscated from the homeless in Green Point.

On Monday last week, the City’s law enforcement officers demolished tents housing more than 20 homeless people on vacant land next to the Green Point Tennis Club called “Tent City”, and confiscated their belongings.

Now, the occupiers will argue the City used obscure provisions of the by-law relating to streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisances (2007) to circumvent the occupiers’ constitutional protections and effect an illegal eviction in direct conflict with section 26(3) of the Constitution and the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (Pie Act).

Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre’s attorney, Daniellé Louw said the occupiers were evicted on August 23 without a court order despite it being a requirement of the Pie Act and in flagrant disregard of a national moratorium on evictions imposed as part of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Carlos Mesquita, a member of the Rehoming Collective, said he was looking forward to the court's response to the challenge of housing the homeless, and the constant lie about there being available bed spaces when they knew there were not.

Mesquita said he had a feeling that the manner and urgency with which this aspect of the case was handled by the City was going to have a profound impact.

"It is important that a court of law has verified the illegitimacy of law enforcement's interventions against the homeless," said Mesquita.

The City refused to comment, stating that "this matter is sub judice and the City cannot provide any further comment".

However, after mounting pressure from the public and an urgent court application, the City on Friday returned some tents to occupiers living on a piece of vacant City-owned land next to the Green Point Tennis Club.

Louw said the occupiers were unable to reconstruct their homes as the City’s law enforcement officials prevented them from doing so.

"This despite the cold front that took place over the weekend, with lows of 4°C and which saw snow falling on Table Mountain," said Louw.

She said the City’s offer of alternative shelter for the occupiers in no way justified or legitimised its inhumane actions, which amounted to an illegal eviction and a circumvention of occupiers’ legal protections in terms of the Pie Act.

"The City has a constitutional obligation to provide suitable alternative accommodation, but only after all the relevant circumstances have been considered by a court in an eviction application," she said.

Louw said judicial oversight in eviction proceedings was imperative to avoid situations where the government acted with impunity, and that it prevented unjust and inhumane actions such as the apartheid forced removals.

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Cape Argus

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