WATCH | City of Cape Town evicts homeless in District Six during massive operation

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Makeshifts tents that were erected in District 6, pictured in April.
Makeshifts tents that were erected in District 6, pictured in April.
Gallo Images/Misha Jordaan
  • The City of Cape Town has demolished the structures, and removed tents, from homeless people in District Six.
  • The city embarked on a massive law enforcement drive on Sunday.
  • In May, the City approached the Western Cape High Court for an interdict against people intending to occupy land earmarked for District Six claimants.

The City of Cape Town has demolished several structures and tents occupied by homeless people on part of a stand earmarked for a land restitution settlement in District Six. 

The evictions angered activists who say it forms part of a series of illegal evictions by the City. On Sunday a massive law enforcement operation was carried out, using trucks and cranes to remove the tents and personal belongings of homeless people who had been living there.

City Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said officers were enforcing the City's by-laws.

"Law Enforcement confirms that the City's Social Development Department offers assistance to help people get off the streets sustainably. The offer is to relocate them to one of the City's Safe Spaces, or any night shelter. All people found on site are made this offer," he said.

When asked whether the eviction was part of a court order, the City said it was carried out under its current by-laws. 

In May the City urgently approached the Western Cape High Court for an interdict against people intending to illegally occupy the land, which is earmarked for District Six claimants who have waited decades for restitution after apartheid-era forced removals.

READ | Cape Town could fine homeless people if they refuse shelter 

However, over the last few months tents were pitched at various open spaces in the CBD and surrounds.  

Last month, law enforcement officers evicted 21 people living in tents and informal structures next to the Green Point Tennis Court. At the time Ndifuna Ukwazi said the eviction occurred without law enforcement officers producing a court order authorising the eviction.

Jared Sacks, a social justice activist, was at the site in District Six while Law Enforcement destroyed the structures, saying:

I noticed that there were more than 10 Law Enforcement vehicles present plus a number of other removal trucks. I noticed that Law Enforcement was overseeing an operation to remove people's personal belongings from the property.

He added the residents told him they have nowhere else to go.

"The residents/occupiers confirmed to me that these tents and structures were their homes and that the removal of their tents, structures and other belongings meant that they've been rendered homeless," Sacks added.

Homeless

Social development activist Lorenzo Davids said it was clear what the City's intentions toward the homeless are.

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"They harassed the homeless without a particular court order or instruction to legalise the operation. The City removed assets and people's property. The harassment and illegal removal of people's assets becomes problematic for the City's treatment towards homeless."

Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre in a statement described the City's conduct as heartless.

"The City is using the Streets By-law with impunity to terrorise people who live on the streets into submission. It is unacceptable in a constitutional democracy that the City can be both jury and executioner when it comes to depriving people of their homes and personal belongings."

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