Cape Town - Mayor Dan Plato has defended the demolition of a tent camp set up by a group of homeless people near the Green Point Tennis Club.
This comes after the City was recently dragged to the Western Cape High Court over its law enforcement officers' alleged inhumane act of demolishing the tents housing more than 20 homeless people on the vacant land called “Tent City” and confiscated their belongings on August 23.
On Friday, the court heard that the City’s eviction did not follow due process and only relied on obscure provisions of its by-laws.
Mayor Dan Plato said City’s law enforcement conducted an operation in Green Point to address ongoing violations of the streets by-law and the many public complaints emanating from that hotspot, one of 350 across the metro.
Plato said the operation, filmed in its entirety by the Metro Police Video Unit, consisted of both social workers and law enforcement, and the police were also in the area observing.
“The matter is now the subject of a Western Cape High Court litigation brought on the advice of Ndifuna Ukwazi to those persons who refused to accept reasonable offers of The Haven Night Shelter and social assistance, refused to co-operate with law enforcement, and whose tents were lawfully impounded as a result," said Plato.
He said there was no question that prior notice was given, with a 30-day letter of demand to vacate the property issued by the lessee of the area on January 28, and compliance notices were also issued by law enforcement on February 2, 2020, March 23 this year and August 16 year.
Plato said impounded tents were laid out in full view, and placed in separate bags with reference numbers attached for safe-keeping.
“Only tents were confiscated, and these items were all returned by agreement on August 27 while the matter is heard in court,” he said.
Ndifuna Ukwazi attorney Jonty Cogger said he was deeply concerned that the City thinks that the vile public prejudice of some Sea Point and Green Point residents against street-based people could ever be a legitimate reason to deprive poor and vulnerable people of their tents and personal possessions.
Cogger said that was not unlike apartheid-era forced removals where the government used “anti-social behaviour” to evict poor black and coloured people from “whites-only” urban areas.
“I am appalled that the City has used similar arguments 27 years into our constitutional democracy,” said Cogger.