The City of Cape Town (CoCT) recently instituted fines of between R500 and R1 500 against homeless people in an attempt to get them off the streets. The move allegedly comes after a number of Capetonians complained about their properties being “invaded” by homeless people.
While CoCT has come under fire for its decision to enforce its current by-laws and fining homeless people, mayoral committee member JP Smith has defended it, saying CoCT had invested in street people through a host of interventions in the past decade.
“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. The by-law has been around since 2007 and does not specifically target the homeless,” he says.
In a press statement on 2 July, CoCT said that between January and March 2019, it had received about 3 051 complaints from the public about anti- social behaviour by people living on the streets. It had issued about 199 fines.
This has sparked much controversy and public debate as many believe that the city cannot expect people who can’t even feed themselves to pay fines. Others support the by-laws, citing that some homeless people resort to crime at night, making the city unsafe for those who work late.