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City responds to claims of harassment of street people<p>The City of Cape Town notes the ongoing reports about the harassment of street people, particularly the issuing of fines by Law Enforcement; and the attempts to paint the City as uncaring.</p><p>For the record, the City of Cape Town is one of the few administrations that has invested in the plight of our street people through a host of interventions in the last decade. The City is invested in helping all people because we care about the safety of our residents.</p><p>Our efforts have seen the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department work closely with our Displaced Persons Unit within Law Enforcement, with the aim of offering social assistance to individuals who live on the streets and ultimately to reintegrate them with their families and communities of origin.</p><p>These efforts are underpinned by the City’s Street People policy, which recognises the complexities that accompany homelessness, and attempts to address them.</p><p>The Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department has teams of field workers who spend their days reaching out to street people, offering assistance with access to social services, including temporary shelter, Identity Documents, social grants and temporary employment opportunities. </p><p>In 2018, the Department spearheaded the opening of the first Safe Space, which currently houses 211 street people who are all receiving support and guidance designed to ultimately help them get off the streets completely.</p><p>The success stories are numerous; so too the public-private partnerships that have emanated from this initiative, resulting in permanent job placements for some Safe Space clients.</p><p>The department also runs an annual winter readiness programme. This year, it has made available R699 000 to provide aid in the form of blankets, mattresses, non-perishable food and toiletries to NGOs to increase their capacity to deal with the number of street people seeking shelter and assistance during the winter months. In spite of its best efforts, however, the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department’s Street People Unit finds that many street people simply refuse any form of assistance. </p><p>For several years, we have been focusing strongly on social development, as the myriad interventions attest to. However, the dynamics on our streets have changed, for a number of reasons, including an increase in the number of parolees being released by the Correctional Services Department, as well as an increase in the number of foreign nationals on the streets, due to a non-functioning immigration service.</p><p>These changing dynamics require more consistent action, which is why we are trying to find a better balance between by-law enforcement and our social development basket of services.</p><p>It is not illegal to be homeless, and street people are entitled to freedom of movement as outlined in the Bill of Rights. However, like everyone else, street people are expected to abide by the laws of the country and the by-laws of the City – particularly the By-law relating to Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances.</p><p>In the first three months of this year, the Law Enforcement Displaced Persons Unit received 3 051 complaints from the public about anti-social behaviour by street people. During the same period, the unit issued 199 fines for contraventions of the aforementioned by-law.</p><p>The Law Enforcement Department is duty-bound to enforce the City’s by-laws as they apply equally to all residents. This includes issuing fines for transgressions. The department is also obliged to respond to complaints and service requests from the public, which include complaints related to behaviour that is prohibited in the by-law relating to Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances.</p><p>It is important to note that this by-law was promulgated in 2007, so it is not new. When it was drafted, we compared it with legislation in other municipalities and purposefully made our by-laws more humane and more considerate than those in other major metropolitan areas.</p><p>The issuing of fines in relation to this specific by-law is not new either. Furthermore, the fines are set by the Department of Justice, and not the City. </p><p>The City is in the unenviable position of trying to balance the rights of street people with the rights of the general population. Homelessness is a global phenomenon that very few countries have managed to adequately address. Add to that the fact that it is a hugely emotive and complex issue, one can start appreciating the difficult task this administration faces.</p><p><strong>End</strong></p> 2019-07-01T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891d;GP0|#904f8ac3-ad18-4896-a9a8-86feb1d4a1b7;L0|#0904f8ac3-ad18-4896-a9a8-86feb1d4a1b7|StatementsGP0|#4bcb251f-1166-4a1c-8ee5-d33721046dec;L0|#04bcb251f-1166-4a1c-8ee5-d33721046dec|law enforcement;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#13dff606-5cfa-42c8-b9da-e6e516e6e771;L0|#013dff606-5cfa-42c8-b9da-e6e516e6e771|Street People;GP0|#5fb0fd45-1240-41c9-aaeb-627cbd4a11ab;L0|#05fb0fd45-1240-41c9-aaeb-627cbd4a11ab|Health1

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