Court dismisses claim for clothing against shelter

The Small Claims Court in Wynberg dismissed a R6418 claim against the Haven Night Shelter in Retreat on Tuesday night.

The Small Claims Court in Wynberg dismissed a R6418 claim against the Haven Night Shelter in Retreat on Tuesday night.

The claim was lodged by a resident who lost clothing after he was forcibly removed from the shelter. Claimant Alfred Saal told Commissioner Keith Honeyman that he had gone to the shelter after leaving his home.

He lamented that he was forced to live on the streets after being thrown out of the shelter, amid accusations that he was drunk. He returned to the shelter two days later to fetch his clothing.

Because he only had a small shopping bag, he could only take a few items, but when he returned a second time his clothes were missing.

Among the missing items were shirts and shoes, Brazilian sandals, jerseys, five ties and tracksuit pants.

He had bought most of the items at a sports shop where he had worked for 15 years.

Asked why he had not simply left his belongings at home, he said: "Because I had a problem with my wife."

When he confronted a caretaker about his missing clothes, the caretaker had said: "I don't know what happened to your clothes, and I don't care - you can do what you want."

The Haven's chief executive, Hassan Khan, said the Haven was not in the hospitality or storage business, and notices prominently displayed warned residents of the rules.

One rule prohibited drunkenness, and another gave the Haven the right to give away to the needy any clothing left behind and not fetched within seven days.

Khan said Saal had in fact refused to sign a document acknowledging the rules.

Dismissing the claim, Honeyman said Saal must have known about the rules, and that he had in fact returned a second time for his clothes well after the seven-day period.

The hearing ended with Saal informing Honeyman that he wanted to appeal.

But the commissioner said there was no appeal against small-claims rulings, and added: "This might be rough justice, perhaps, but it's my finding, as I see the picture." - Sapa

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