The company which holds the lease for the land around the Green Point tennis courts says it has fenced in the homeless in anticipation of using the partially enclosed grounds in future.
According to the managing director of Empex (PTY) Ltd, Anthony Loubser, the erection of the fence is not to get rid of the homeless and he says that his company has followed the protocols aligned with the City of Cape Town.
The Green Point tennis club chairman, Dave Buerger, says he is aware of the lease agreement that Mr Loubser has, and added that the tennis club is not interacting with Mr Loubser regarding the use of the grounds or the homeless people occupying it.
Mr Loubser says they have had talks with various NGOs with regards to relocating the homeless people.
“We have engaged with the homeless representatives to find suitable accommodation and resolve the issue of moving them without having to go to court,” said Mr Loubser.
“The fence is there for our companys’ decision to be able to secure the lease area, but we are not using the fence as a means to get rid of the people. This is in anticipation of us solving this problem properly. When they are moved to suitable places to live then the fence is there.”
The homeless are able to move in and out of the fenced area as there are gates that Mr Loubser says are unlocked so they may enter and exit without hindrance.
“We have had discussions with NGOs and Ndifuna Ukwazi and we will accompany them and the NGOs on a visit to alternate facilities in Cape Town. If the homeless people want to go we will assist them, it has to be a voluntary process.”
Ward 54 councillors Nicola Jowell confirmed that the process of putting up a fence with the Green Point Tennis Club started in July 2020 and that the City is supporting this process.
“This land which the tents are occupying is under the management of the tennis association. The City is aware of the fence that has been erected and would form part of the permissible work on site according to the existing lease agreement,” said Ms Jowell.
“The tennis association has been liaising with a group of shelters and NGOs to assist in providing alternative accommodation. I have met with the association late last year and we are due to have a follow up meeting shortly. We have undertaken to support the processes as much as possible in offering social assistance to the homeless who are living there. The tennis association has left the gates to the area open currently while they work in a proactive and consultative manner with the people who are occupying the land.”
Activist organisation Ndifuna Ukwazi says they aware of the intentions of the tennis club.
“In respect of the fence, our clients have not been blocked from their homes, they still have access to their homes. We were subsequently informed about the fence and told by Green Point Tennis Club that they erected the fence due to the City’s insistence that they secure the premises against any further occupation. Green Point Tennis Club have assured us that they do not intend displacing our clients and that they are committed to working with us to find a sustainable solution to meet our clients’ housing needs,” said Ndifuna Ukwazi attorney Daniellé Louw.
Mr Loubser confirmed that they have had talks with Ndifuna Ukwazi as well as the Development Action Group (DAG) who are assisting Empex.
“We are planning a learning exchange with the homeless people to show them safe spaces in Bellville and Kuilsriver to name a few,” said DAG project officer Lorenzo Johnson.
“This is where they can hear, see and speak to other homeless about their experiences at these safe places, we want to show them what there is and hopefully implement those types of modules here on the Atlantic seaboard. So we have to look at where there is open land or a vacant building that could be converted to something with a similar type of style to the shelters we are taking them to,” he said.