- The City of Cape Town has been ordered to return the belongings of the homeless living around the Castle in the CBD.
- On Wednesday, Ndifuna Ukwazi filed a notice of motion with the Western Cape High Court to order the City to return tents, structures, materials, and other belongings.
- It follows after the City conducted an operation to address criminal activity and improve safety near tented camps in the CBD.
The City of Cape Town has been hauled to court again over its alleged treatment of the homeless living around the Castle and the city centre.
Activist organisation and law centre Ndifuna Ukwazi brought a court application to prevent the City from taking the belongings of the homeless living around the Castle.
This followed after the City had conducted a multi-departmental operation to address criminal activity and improve safety near tented camps in the CBD, including around the Castle precinct.
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The City enforcement services conducted crime prevention operations where necessary, with drugs confiscated and arrests made.
On Wednesday, Ndifuna Ukwazi filed a notice of motion with the Western Cape High Court to order the City to return tents, structures, materials, and belongings in back to the occupants within 48 hours.
It also urged the court to grant an interdict to prevent the City from carrying out evictions against the homeless living in the Foreshore area pending the outcome of the Gelderbloem High Court and Equality Court applications that challenge the constitutionality of its Streets By-law and Waste By-law.
Both parties settled and an agreement was reached between the City and Ndifuna Ukwazi.
A founding affidavit by Joslyn Thomas, a homeless woman living on the Foreshore for nearly six months, pointed out that on the day of the City's operation last month, four City law enforcement vehicles arrived where she was living.
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"Some of the personal belongings taken by law enforcement and the EPWP [Expanded Public Workers Programme] workers include identity documents, asylum-seeker permits, mattresses, HIV/TB medication, clinic cards, personal documentation, birth certificates, clothing, toiletries and money," she said in her affidavit.
Thomas added that law enforcement officers and EPWP staffers confiscated all materials and structures.
Ndifuna Ukwazi argued in its notice of motion that it was clear that the confiscations were conducted without a valid order of the court.
"In sum, the first respondent (the City) has failed to show any lawful basis for the dispossession it effected on 25 May 2022. Thus, the deprivation of our client's homes and possessions was illegal and in contravention of their constitutional and legislatively protected rights.
The organisation said:
According to the City, the purpose of the operation at the Castle was to conduct waste clearing due to severely unhygienic conditions, including hazardous human waste. These clean-up operations occurred regularly with the knowledge and consent of "unlawful occupants".
"No occupied shelters were knowingly removed, with the only shelter material removed during the operation on 25 May being four vacant, empty tents, as well as abandoned materials including plastic and bricks. These tents have been removed for safe storage at the Ndabeni facility," the City said.
The City dismissed allegations that officials had taken "steps to deprive" people of their personal belongings, medication, or ID books.
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