'Our garbage bins are treated as buffet tables' - councillor faces probe for comments on homeless

2016-11-29 13:54

Cape Town – City of Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit on Tuesday said he was still gathering information on controversial social media comments made by DA councillor Shayne Ramsay about homeless people.

"It was brought to my attention that the councillor could be in breach of conduct by bringing the council into disrepute," he said.

"After I have all the information, I will apply my mind in the next six days to see the way forward."

Ramsay, a ward councillor for the affluent Atlantic Seaboard, angered many with her recent Facebook post entitled "Vagrancy in Sea Point".

She started out saying she met with residents, colleagues and staff from the City of Cape Town "to discuss this increasingly difficult problem."

Ramsay said there were about 4 000 people living on the streets of Cape Town and generally categorised them as criminals, mentally retarded and social outcasts.

She initially planned a "march against grime" during which protesters would walk along the Sea Point promenade, "kindly asking anyone planning on sleeping [there] overnight, to move along".

"Please join me, wearing a white top or T-shirt to stand out in the dark and in the theme of cleanliness," she requested in the post made on Saturday, but removed later that day.


Apology

In the same Facebook post, Ramsay suggested that while her ward was a "community" and "vagrants are also people", nevertheless, "if they [the homeless] choose to live in a society like Sea Point, then they have to behave in a manner which is acceptable to the other residents".

She said: "Since they rely on our handouts for their existence, if you stop giving to beggars, street people and car guards, they will move elsewhere...

"Furthermore, our garbage bins are treated as buffet tables. Please don't put your bins out the night before collection."

Ramsay went on in the post to suggest calling the police "if you are threatened in any way" and to "report them [the homeless] for any indecent public behaviour and for trespassing".

She later issued an apology on her social media accounts to everyone she had offended, mentioning in particular "the homeless South Africans in Cape Town".

On Tuesday, Smit said there were certain human resource principles that needed to be followed.

If there were grounds for further investigation, Ramsay would have seven days to respond and obtain legal representation.

"It is a very fair process and open," Smit said.

"I take this matter very seriously."

Attempts to speak to Ramsay directly failed as calls to her cellphone went through to voicemail.

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