Setting the record straight on misleading reporting – Cape Town

Mayor Dan Plato wishes to correct assertions that he and JP Smith can face suspended jail time

City sets the record straight on misleading reporting

26 September 2019

The City was served with an urgent High court application on 22 August 2019. The matter was set down for a hearing on 2 September 2019. The application refers to the matter between a group of homeless individuals - Carin Theresa Rhoode Gelderbloem and 6 Others vs The City of Cape Town – Case No: 14669/2019, in which the City was requested to no longer enforce existing by-laws against these particular individuals.

The applicants in the Gelderbloem application are alleging that the City has violated the interim order granted by the court on 5 September 2019. They argue in their papers that we are in contempt of the interim court order. Neither the Mayor nor Alderman Smith were parties to the main application and it is confusing to say the least as to why the applicants’ legal team have decided to add the political office bearers to the contempt application.

Neither the Mayor nor Alderman Smith issue instructions when it comes to enforcement action nor do they take enforcement action, so attempting to hold them responsible for the alleged non-compliance with the court order is illogical.

Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, said, ‘The City is committed to providing services to all residents. We reiterate that the support and interventions of the City to help uplift the daily circumstances of the street people are ongoing. But this appears to be ignored by some in the media who prefer to only pursue a divisive agenda. There is a small percentage of street people who reject all forms of assistance and attempts to reintegrate them into communities and there are also a number of criminals who hide among the homeless and prey on unsuspecting residents. People are fined for contravening by-laws, regardless of their social status. The city has a duty to uphold its by-laws for all and act when a person is in contravention of these laws. It must be emphasised that similar by-laws are on the books in other major metropolitan cities in the country.’

It has been agreed by both parties that the order prohibiting the pursuit of these fines only applies to the seven mentioned in this application.

The following interventions are in place to assist street people:

The Social Development and Early Childhood Development Departments set out the aim to effectively reduce the number of people living, sleeping and surviving on the streets. It also sets out access to the necessary developmental assistance to achieve reintegration, accommodation and employment.

The Street People Unit offers social assistance to street people including access to shelter, access to substance abuse rehabilitation programmes, relocation to a place of origin, reunification with family, access to development programmes and work opportunities.

The City launched its winter readiness programme for street people on 1 May, which runs until the end of October. The City has partnered with 16 shelters across the Metro in order to temporarily increase the amount of bed space by 247 beds as well as providing additional resources.

The City has launched a “Give Dignity Campaign” where residents can donate goods at their local libraries to assist street people at our participating shelters and safe spaces during the winter period.

The City’s Culemborg Safe Space for street people was launched on 29 June 2018. This is a transitional safe space for street people to overnight and to receive access to social assistance; health assistance; substance abuse rehabilitation, to partake in developmental opportunities and to work with social workers towards reintegration into society. A second space is in the process of being identified.

Issued by Greg Wagner, Spokesperson to the Executive Mayor, 26 September 2019