“David vs. Goliath.” Homelessness in Cape Town | Homelessness

Cape Town, South Africa – Karin Gelderbloem woke up early in the morning to a huge rock that fell on the tent. A group of high school students drank all day at the Society’s Garden on the way to the South African Parliament.

They were now threatening his homeless.

When Gelderbloem’s friend, Ramiz Kemp, took to the streets to protest, he was beaten and stabbed several times. Leaving Kolo, he managed to walk to the entrance to the park. Losing a lot of blood, he was eventually taken by ambulance to Somerset Hospital two hours later, an inch from his life.

When he reported the incident to Cape Town Central Police Department, Gelderbloem said officials said it was his friend’s fault that he fell asleep first. This was October 2018, one of his first meetings with the city police.

“When you stand before the law enforcement agencies, you are David, they are Goliath,” he said. “They told us we had no rights.”

South African police spokesman Andre Trout declined to comment to Al Azira Azira on the phone. “If he is rejected, he should file a formal complaint with the police. “We do not take such things seriously,” he said.

Homeless residents of Cape Town say they have IDs confiscated by citizens’ law enforcement agencies, HIV medicines և tents [Sindile Sydwell Kamlana/Al Jazeera]

During his 51 years on the streets, Gelderbloem claims that law enforcement officers confiscated clothes, sleeping bags, dentures, and even beads that he used to make and sell jewelry. On several occasions at dusk, he says city officials will tear off the cardboard and plastic sheets he used to protect himself from the elements.

Gelderbloem says such cases were often accompanied by a torrent of verbal violence. “They never spoke to me like a decent man,” he said. “I ask them, ‘Is that how you talk to your mom?’ Do not think that this can ever happen to you. Homelessness can happen to anyone in an instant. »

Archaic by-laws, based on the wanderings of the colonial era, “passed laws” issued by the Dutch and British to subjugate the indigenous population, effectively criminalizing homelessness in all South African communities. People lying, sitting or standing in public in Cape Town have been fined up to Rs 2,000 ($ 146). Although this by-law technically applies to everyone, it disproportionately affects the homeless, who often have nowhere else to go. The amendment to the internal regulations, which is currently under public discussion, will allow law enforcement agencies to physically remove the homeless from the area, arrest them on the spot, if they refuse an alternative asylum offer, and occupy tents.

Deputies in the United Kingdom call on the government to repeal the 1824 The Law on Prostitution, which criminalizes rough sleep. In Cape Town, Gelderbloem and 10 other homeless Capetons are calling for their own transformation.

In March, they filed two appeals, one in the Western Cape High Court, the other in the Equality Court, challenging the constitutionality of the bylaws and the alleged discriminatory effect. The applicants were fined for violating these laws, և in their applications Ալ they gave various testimonies to Al aze Azira that their identity documents, blankets and other personal belongings had been confiscated by law enforcement. Since the case was opened, the applicants’ lawyer has stated that one of them claims that during a recent raid on Hope Street, law enforcement officers took HIV medicine.

The applicants want the bylaw to be repealed; they demand 5,000 rand ($ 360) each in constitutional compensation, as well as an official apology from the city authorities.

Homeless people in Cape Town say law enforcement regularly removes plastic covers from their tents, exposing them to harsh winter elements. [Sindile Sydwell Kamlana/Al Jazeera]

Last week, the city of Cape Town released a press release posted on Facebook by several royal advisers to the South Democratic bloc, South Africa’s main opposition group that controls the Western Cape, saying it was going to oppose the bylaw.

“Law enforcement is obliged to apply the law equally, to respond to hundreds of complaints from residents every month about anti-social behavior, violations of the law, and crimes committed by some people living on the streets.” it is mentioned.

“When all social assistance offers are rejected, only then does the City issue compliance notices – fines – the main legal mechanisms available for the implementation of by-laws.”

The city council of the Democratic Bloc also sent a mass letter to the homeless complaints model trying to build its case.

Adv Onti Koger, a lawyer representing homeless activist Ndifuna Ukwazi, said the city’s response was “contemptible” and “tantamount to inciting hatred against homeless people”.

“Asking for complaints from taxpayers, residents, businesses and privileged people is a dangerous, divisive legal strategy that will only deepen the vulnerability of street people and marginalize them in society,” he added.

Gel is right, Gelderbloem և his friend Ramiz Kemp [Sindile Sydwell Kamlana/Al Jazeera]

According to the Western Cape state government, 4862 homeless people lived in Cape Town in 2019.

In November 2020, a recent study by three nonprofits, U-Turn and Khulisa Streetscapes և MES, found that the actual number exceeded 14,000.

May. Պ. Smith, a member of the mayor’s City Security Committee, said there was likely a “double count” as many organizations were involved in the data collection. He acknowledged that the situation was “extremely tense” after the country’s first blockade of the coronavirus last year. The NGO survey mainly took data from the first block.

The three groups also estimate that the city of Cape Town spends more than 335.2 million rand ($ 24.4 million) on law enforcement sanctions against the homeless, a total of 121.9 million rand ($ 8.9 million) on social development. on programs.

“It’s utter nonsense, a gross misrepresentation of numbers,” said Smith, who, among other things, accused the authors of dealing with law enforcement budgets as if they had been used solely to target the homeless. In fact, these calculations of the amount spent on the city’s homeless police were based on a survey of 350 homeless people, government reports, and interviews with officials.

Smith added that Cape Town had the most liberal policy towards homeless people in any city in South Africa, that such by-laws exist all over the world.

Although this is ineffective for Gelderbloem. “We have to win this case. “The city must realize that homeless people are people,” he said.

The decision could have been made months later.

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