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City of Cape Town to implement eviction order to remove the homeless

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The City of Cape Town says an eviction order for homeless people in the CBD includes a standing interdict against any further unlawful occupation of certain areas and city-owned public spaces.

The court granted the local authority a final order to remove squatters from areas like Buitengracht Street, FW De Klerk Boulevard, and the Taxi Rank, at the end of next month.

The City says the eviction order to remove the homeless people from various sites in the CBD will be implemented by the end of July. It says it has made hundreds of beds available at its various Safe Spaces in the CBD, to accommodate people who want to get off the streets.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis says those who move to the Safe Spaces can stay there for up to six months, and after that their personal circumstances will be re-evaluated.

“By the end of July all of those tented encampments around the greater CBD area have to move. They have to move either to the alternative accommodation that we’ve provided in the safe spaces or their own if they wish to make their own plans. But they cannot stay where they are and this is an important positive moment for the city. Because we have led with all of those care intentions first and that is why we think that this case has been so successful and stands as a model now, for how we ca do other cases in the city.”

The Western Cape Department of Social Development says the handing down of an eviction order to the City of Cape Town for the removal of homeless people at various sites in the CBD, has affirmed that the City’s Safe Spaces are dignified transitional shelters.

The Safe Spaces will serve as alternative accommodation options for those whose shelters are removed from the streets.

Provincial Minister of Social Development, Jaco Londt, says they are encouraging those living on the streets to access the available spaces for their safety.

“We do not wish for anyone to be negatively impacted by the harsh winter nor for anyone to feel unsafe in public spaces. The Western Cape Government and municipalities like the City of Cape Town are working tirelessly to support homeless individuals, but we cannot do it alone. We would like to encourage communities and affected individuals to work with us.”

Housing activist organisation, Ndifuna Ukwazi, says the Western Cape High Court’s decision underscores the ongoing struggle for housing rights and social justice in Cape Town.  Ndifuna Ukwazi’s Attornery, Dr. Jonty Cogger, says while they acknowledge the court’s ruling, it is important that all stakeholders, including government entities and civil society, collaborate to address the causes of homelessness.

“The eviction of vulnerable communities from public spaces highlights systemic issues that perpetuate homelessness, including historic injustices and inadequate housing policies. A single eviction order, without addressing the underlying causes of homelessness and ensuring alternative sustainable housing solutions, risks perpetuating cycles of displacement and marginalisation,” adds Dr Jonty Cogger.

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town has also welcomed the Department of Public Works’ application for an eviction order to remove homeless people who are unlawfully occupying the area around the Castle of Good Hope.

The City says its Social Development officials have documented the personal circumstances of each of the unlawful occupants via on-site surveys and it can offer them alternative accommodation in the Safe Spaces.

Source: SABC News

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