WATCH | Cape Town cops swoop on District Six homeless camp after apartment complex goes to court

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • The City of Cape Town was recently ordered to enforce its by-laws with regard to a homeless encampment in District Six.
  • The ruling came as a result of a nearby apartment complex's body corporate taking legal action to protect residents and property owners.
  • The problem is with the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act, according to JP Smith.

A recent high court ruling has forced the City of Cape Town to act on a homeless encampment in District Six, following complaints from the body corporate of a nearby apartment complex.

Sydney Street parking lot, near Cape Town's busy inner-city intersection of Sir Lowry and Tenant in District Six, has been a cause of concern for several residents.

In the last few years, the lot has become a site for housing for people experiencing homelessness. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it ballooned.

Drug consumption, unattended open fires, high noise levels, public urination, nudity and untidiness were listed as on-site activities in a matter recently heard by the Western Cape High Court.

Residents and property owners in The Six, an apartment complex, also referred to as a sectional title scheme, a stone's throw away from the now-occupied parking lot, say they have been adversely impacted by the encampment. 

READ | Homeless crisis: City of Cape Town's court application delayed after Joburg NGO opposes evictions

Seeking relief, the sectional title scheme's body corporate approached the court in late 2022, demanding that the City of Cape Town, which owns the site occupied by people without housing, take action.

The body corporate requested from the court an order to force the City to clear the site of the illegal occupants, structures and debris - and to "ensure the site is not used in a manner that contravenes any law or by-law".

Contravention of the City's by-laws comprised a large portion of the body corporate's argument and was also a keen focus in Justice J Cloete's judgment delivered on 26 April.

This judgment instructed the City of Cape Town to "abate and/or reasonably remediate the nuisance" at the Sydney Street parking lot.

This ruling, therefore, stipulated that the City take measures to make the area safe and clean - before 27 October 2023.

Problem with the PIE Act

The City's mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, told News24 that enacting Justice Cloete's judgment was complicated because of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land (PIE) Act. 

The by-laws that governed Justice Cloete's verdict conflict with the PIE Act, and the friction has made clearing the area difficult. 

The PIE Act protects the rights of people with no legal right to the land on which they reside, which then balances the rights of property owners with those who claim the right to use said land for housing purposes.

"I see that a precedence-setting case like this will almost certainly create a similar desire in other communities to follow the same suit and will lead to many further court rulings of this kind, which hopefully will force the national government to apply their minds to the root cause of all these problems, being the PIE Act," he said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
What's your take on the task team looking into Russian President Vladimir Putin's possible visit to SA in August?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I doubt they'll find a legal loophole
24% - 1380 votes
Putin is coming, it's just a formality
76% - 4269 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.