Judgment reserved in City of Cape Town, SAHRC case on Strandfontein site
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Cape Town - Judgment between the City and the monitors of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has been reserved in the case surrounding the Strandfontein homeless site.
The hearing took place on Tuesday in a private video meeting for only the affected parties. When the hearing started, Judge Siraj Desai asked both parties whether they would withdraw or abandon the application as no relief was sought from the court.
The City’s legal counsel indicated that they did not want any substantive relief from the court. The City said the 11 respondents did not “permit the applicants to abandon the matter”.
Judge Desai said it was unusual for an organ of state to seek an interdict against a Chapter 9 institution.
The City interdicted the SAHRC from sending human rights monitors to the Strandfontein site to monitor the living conditions of the homeless people.
The Women’s Legal Centre, who was admitted as a friend of the court, submitted that the monitoring of the Strandfontein site was necessary, as was any site the City intended to set up. “The effect of the monitoring interdict against the respondents is logically impractical,” the legal centre said.
In an affidavit, the City’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said they had been required to refine its response in respect of the unique challenges posed by the current situation on the homeless people.
“The establishment of the committee by the SAHRC does not permit for powers to be conferred on individuals (the so-called monitors),” he said.
Bosman also claims in his affidavit that when a visit to the Strandfontein site was conducted on April 9, the monitors were not established.
He also slammed the SAHRC report that was released in April, produced by NGOs. Recommendations included immediate improvements at the site, that provision be made to ensure the daily presence of medical personnel to assess occupants in each tent and manage referrals to the on-site health services, and implementation of safety and security measures.
It also recommended that a multi-
sectoral task team led by the City be urgently established, including representatives from the homeless people at Strandfontein, civil society organisations, the Strandfontein community and representatives from civil society.
“All of the issues raised in the report have been addressed and are no longer an issue. To the extent that the extracts from the report set out facts which contradict those set out in relation to the current facilities and services available at the site, it is denied,” said Bosman.