Community Chest chief executive Lorenzo Davids chaired the round-table meeting yesterday where NGOs and stakeholders discussed the issue of the homeless being fined.
Cape Town - After the nationwide outcry against the City for implementing a by-law under which homeless people are issued fines for sleeping in public places, the Community Chest conducted an urgent discussion yesterday with key stakeholders to try to find solutions.

The meeting was attended by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), as well as various NGOs, chief executives of homeless shelters, and other figureheads fighting the cause of street people.

“The SAHRC was scheduled to have a meeting with City of Cape Town officials last week, but they never showed up,” said SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen.

“We also sent a request to meet with the mayor Dan Plato and he was really eager to meet, so that will happen within the next day or two,” Nissen added.

Former Mayco member for social and early childhood development Suzette Little said that the by-law relating to streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisances was outdated and needed to be reviewed considering the current state of the city.

“If you have a by-law that was implemented in 2007 that we are still following today, that should already tell you that there’s a problem.

“Because any policy or document needs to be amended in terms of the situation the city finds itself in,” she pointed out.

“There are several different categories of homelessness, because on the streets you’ll find doctors, lawyers and professional people who have found themselves in terrible circumstances,” Little said.

According to Hassan Khan, chief executive of The Haven Night Shelter, the homeless often do not want help from the shelter, and preferred to simply have their meals there.

Venetia Orgill, founder of the NGO Discover Your Power, said that she had received complaints about street people being fined for simply eating in public places.

“Our homeless people are getting fined R500 sometimes for eating their lunch in public places, with their baggage around them. With the fine stating that they are littering and dumping,” she said.

Community Chest chief executive Lorenzo Davids said the issue needed to be addressed at national level.

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