Wednesday, January 19

Scathing report released on Cape Town’s homeless policies


The City of Cape Town must review and amend all statutes that criminalize homelessness without just cause. This was one of more than 150 recommendations in a City-commissioned report on homelessness.

The more than 400 page report was compiled by The Inkathalo Conversations (TIC). He criticizes the local government’s current response to homelessness and questions its processes that led to the recent changes to city statutes. It should be noted that the report was expected to be published more than a year ago.

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Recent changes to city statutes, approved Sept. 29, appear to run counter to the report’s recommendations, particularly those that fine the homeless for rejecting offers of shelter.

The report covers eight broad areas, including the criminalization of the homeless and the institutional drivers of homelessness. It also presents “special reports” on what it calls the homeless tax and on the controversial Strandfontein camp that was established by the City for the homeless in response to the Covid pandemic.

The report’s recommendations focused largely on amending the 2013 Street People Policy, but it also offered suggestions for national and provincial governments’ responses to homelessness.

Some of these include:

  • The City of Cape Town and all other municipalities must review and amend all statutes that criminalize homelessness without just cause.
  • Law enforcement officials must be trained to deal with homelessness.
  • An R1 tax by all homeowners specifically for homeless interventions
  • The City’s ‘responsible giving’ campaigns should review their public communication, particularly as it is misleading, particularly about the available space for beds in the City.
  • An investigation into the Strandfontein homeless camp led by the provincial government and the South African Human Rights Commission
  • 24-hour access to adequate and free sanitary facilities, access to showers and waste facilities
  • Secure storage spaces for the homeless to store their personal belongings
  • Creating a social contract to alleviate and end homelessness
  • Biennial research on the homeless that “will form the basis of all policy-making, strategy-making and planning work”
  • The establishment of an intergovernmental agency focused on the homeless
  • Internal Affairs should expedite the issuance of national identity documents, birth certificates, and other civic records for the homeless.
  • The cost of requesting identity documents that have been confiscated by police activity should not be borne by the homeless.
  • The city of Cape Town should include homelessness as a criterion for emergency housing
  • Doing more to prevent homelessness before it arises
  • A review of the options available to treat substance abuse.

The report says: “We hope that the various players … in the sector will take the time to digest the report and provide their opinion …”

I want to know is currently litigating against the city in relation to their homeless statutes.

The city has Announced that he will approach the Constitutional Court to obtain eviction orders against the city’s homeless tent camps, which are currently prohibited under the current Disaster Management Act.

Much of the content of the report comes from the testimony of individuals who responded to the call for submissions. These include homeless and formerly homeless people, people who work for homeless aid and support organizations, and government officials.

According to the report, on July 31, 2020, “The city of Cape Town, through the office of Councilor Zahid Badroodien [Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health], asked The Inkathalo Conversations to facilitate an independent ‘pre-public participation process’ that provides recommendations that improve the City’s policies and strategies to address homelessness. ”

Inkathalo Conversations did not respond to GroundUp’s questions at press time, so it is unclear what the group’s precise legal status is, its funding, or what the City’s commitment to the results was.

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo told GroundUp: “The city is reviewing the Street People Policy and will review the [report] during the process. The incoming member of the Mayor’s Committee will release further communications on the Street People Policy. ”

© 2021 GroundUp. This article was published for the first time here, and republished with permission.


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