City of Cape Town 'continues to target poor, homeless, landless'
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Cape Town - A City of Cape Town tender calling for bids from private companies to demolish illegal informal structures has left activists fuming.
Mayco member for Human Settlements Malusi Booi said the tender was issued every three years for a service provider to assist in the dismantling of illegally erected structures in terms of what the law allowed the City to do.
“The City, as well as metros across the country, issues similar tenders to assist it with its operations to uphold the law. This is to prevent illegal occupation of land, as the South African law requires, by removing partially erected, vacant structures. It is not eviction. It is not season bound,” he said.
The Legal Resources Centre has vowed to challenge the tender. Spokesperson Thabo Ramphobole said: “In the midst of a global pandemic, health and economic crisis in this country, there is no justification for the City persisting with this tender.
“We can only assume that the motivation behind this tender is to escalate operations to evict and demolish informal housing structures. We find the City’s persistence in this regard repugnant. A successful tender merely arms the City to continue targeting poor, homeless and landless people under the guise of upholding the rule of law and preventing land invasions.”
Ramphobole said they are taking instruction from stakeholders and communities who are concerned about the tender.
“This tender does not benefit the people of South Africa nor the ratepayers of the City of Cape Town. This is an unnecessary, expensive and wasteful expenditure that is only earmarked to exacerbate the housing crisis and homelessness in the City. This is not the time for the state, whether local, provincial or national, to prioritise evictions and demolish informal housing structures,” he said.
The tender advertisement appeared in the Cape Argus on June 12. A clarification meeting is expected to be held in Ndabeni today.
It’s not the first time the City has come under fire for demolishing shacks amid the pandemic. Over the Easter holidays, the City demolished 30 shacks belonging to land occupiers in the Empolweni informal settlement in Khayelitsha.
Michael Clark, a researcher at Ndifuna Ukwazi, said: “The City’s plans to outsource this function or contract a private company to assist with the demolition of people’s homes is entirely inappropriate.
“There have been widespread reports about the human rights abuses perpetuated by private companies contracted to demolish informal homes in municipalities like Joburg and Durban, including reports of physical and verbal assaults, property being stolen or damaged, and sexual violence inflicted on unlawful occupiers. That these reports about the disregard for the dignity, bodily integrity and personal belongings of unlawful occupiers has not given the City food for thought is deeply concerning.”
Activist Lee Smith from Hangberg said he did not find this new move surprising. “It doesn’t surprise me they are out of touch with their mandate and duty to the people of the city. In the dead of winter they are demolishing shacks. You don’t resolve any dispute with fighting against the people...”