Cape Town to serve eviction notices on homeless settlements in CBD
Final court hearing due in April
The City of Cape Town has been granted permission by the high court to serve eviction notices on homeless settlements across the CBD where destitute residents living on the street have “refused all offers of social assistance”.
Eviction notices will be served before the next court hearing in April, when a decision on whether to make the eviction order final will be made, the city said on Monday.
Unlawful “occupation hotspots” include sites along Buitengracht Street, FW De Klerk Boulevard, Foregate Square, Helen Suman Boulevard, Strand Street, Foreshore/N1, Virginia Avenue and Mill Street Bridge.
The number of destitute residents living on the street increased during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Evictions were a measure of “last resort” for those refusing accommodation offered under the city’s expanded alternative shelter programme. “Over time, city social development officials have made repeated offers of social assistance to those unlawfully occupying public spaces in the city, including offers of dignified transitional shelter at NGO-run night shelters and city-run safe spaces,” said the city.
“While some have accepted these offers of support, the unlawful occupants receiving notices are those who have consistently refused all offers of social assistance while continuing to unlawfully occupy busy intersections and road reserves in the CBD.”
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the aim was to reclaim public spaces and provide care for vulnerable citizens living on the street as the social development budget had been significantly expanded to accommodate homeless people.
“We have done our absolute level best over the past year to extend every offer of care to each of these people, and to help them off the streets. Where this has been persistently refused, we must now ask the courts for the order we are seeking,” said Hill-Lewis.
“No person has the right to reserve a public space as exclusively theirs, while indefinitely refusing all offers of shelter and social assistance. Our city’s public places serve important social and community purposes, and must be open and available for all.
“Illegal occupations of city open spaces impact the safety of traffic and pedestrians, as well as local businesses critical to growing the economy.”
This is a developing story.
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