JMPD confirms it is moving the homeless off the streets into shelters, insists it is not fining them

2019-07-25 22:10
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The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) has launched a joint operation with the City of Johannesburg's social services to get homeless people off the street and into the City's various shelters owing to the cold weather.

JMPD spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minaar told News24 that over the past two days, it had taken 12 people off the streets and placed them in shelters, where they were given accommodation and food.

"Due to the growing number of homeless people and the increasingly cold weather, the JMPD decided to embark on this operation," Minaar said, adding it would be on-going.

He said he could not confirm reports that JMPD officers had allegedly issued fines to homeless and displaced people after the City had distanced itself from unconfirmed reports to this effect.

"We would like to assure residents that this is not the position of the City. Where residents have information about such activities, we encourage them to contact us. The JMPD adopts a humane approach when dealing with displaced people," the City said in a statement on Thursday. 

"The City has not taken the position to issue homeless and displaced people with citations." 

It claimed they would not be able to pay fines issued to them. 

".... this category of people do not have valid fixed addresses that must be recorded on the citation and, the City would then have racked up a substantial amount of 'revenue' in fines but would not be able to recover them," the statement read. 

READ - Pavement fines for the homeless: Rights body wants answers from City of Cape Town

The City said although its by-laws prohibit loitering and unauthorised usage of public open spaces and other infrastructures, such as underneath bridges and pavements, those places have become the preferred shelter for homeless and displaced people.

"As the City, we work to ensure we strike a balance between ensuring laws are being upheld while also recognising the vulnerable position of homeless and displaced residents.

"Often, the JMPD will receive complaints to remove homeless people from private property such as shop fronts, pavements and even in front of people's homes."

The City claimed JMPD officers always attended to such calls by escorting the homeless from the site of a complaint and taking them to the nearest shelter.  

At times, it added, it might become necessary for the JMPD to remove people from the side of the road or underneath bridges for their safety and that of motorists.

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Read more on:    jmpd  |  johannesburg
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