Homelessfight heats up

The City of Cape Town has come under fire for fining homeless people.

An Atlantic Seaboard lawyer has joined the legal battle between seven homeless people and the City of Cape Town.

The homeless are seeking an interdict against the City for fining them for obstructing by-laws.

The City is opposing the matter.

In August this year, lawyers from Dingley Marshall Inc in Claremont filed an urgent interdict against the City, which called for the suspension of the fining and prosecution of homeless people, and preventing the City from confiscating their belongings.

The seven applicants in the case are Carin Rhoode Gelderblom, Emily Smith, Vuyo Mbozi, Natasha Present, Patricia Geyser, Beulah Meyer and Xolani Siboxo.

Joining in the litigation is Gary Trappler, from Gary Trappler Attorneys as a second respondent to interpose and support the City in resisting the interdict.

A letter addressed to residents and ratepayers by Sea Point Fresnaye and Bantry Bay Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (SFB), stated that an urgent financial appeal from Mr Trappler was received.

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The letter asked the SFB to support his initiative in favour of the City’s position, and to act as the friend of the court for the City.

“Clearly, community opinion is widely split. Some community members actively support the homeless application, while others strongly support the City’s position.The concern is that if the application succeeds, there could be a proliferation of permanent shacks and/or shelters along the Atlantic Seaboard,” they said.

They said SFB believes the current interdict and court case of the homeless against the City is not the correct approach, but agreed to donate R5 000 to support Mr Trappler’s legal case in support of the City.

The matter is set down for argument on Tuesday December 3. Mr Trappler said they would submit that these by-laws should apply to all irrespective of race, religion or class.

He said should the seven applicants succeed, Law Enforcement officers will not be able to move homeless people or their belongings or prevent informal settlements from being erected all over the Atlantic Seaboard and other places.

Mr Trappler said to be homeless was not a crime and a lot has been done to alleviate the plight of homeless people. However, he said homelessness leads to various crimes such as littering, performing ablutions in public, aggressive begging, harassment and the establishment of informal settlements in the streets.

“This interdict will remain in place pending an application to the Constitutional Court for a review or setting aside of the by-laws. This will take at least six months which will allow for an opportunity of hundreds of homeless people to move into the area with impunity and the situation will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse,” he said.

The City came under fire from the public earlier this year about fining the homeless for obstructing pavements and erecting structures. The City said it was not targeting street people, but merely enforcing by-laws (“Case between homeless people and City postponed”, September 5).

Ms Rhoode Gelderblom told the Atlantic Sun in September that she was tired. “The City needs to know that they are dealing with people,” she said.