The City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Portfolio Committee unanimously approved four by-laws for adoption. These by-laws are amendments to the Traffic By-law, Animal Keeping By-law and the By-law relating to Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances. The fourth is the new Unlawful Occupation By-law.
Safety and Security Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe said that “The approval by the Portfolio Committee is the first step. From here, the documents will serve before the Mayoral Committee, and then final approval will need to be obtained from full Council.”
The Animal Keeping By-law has been in place since 2010, and has served as a guide to pet ownership and the welfare of working equines amongst others. The updated bylaw is more comprehensive and provides a very clear guide to animal owners or care-givers, breeders of animals and the public at large as to how to apply the ‘duty to care’ principle to all animals.
Even though the existing provisions around the number of animals to be kept on specific properties and animal sterilisation among others are strengthened, the amended by-law also includes dog fighting, the keeping of other categories of animals like bees, places of business like pet parlours, pet day care centres and hotels, as well as persons operating in the animal welfare sector, the City said.
The Traffic By-law was first introduced in 2011 to provide for the regulation of public transport vehicles and traffic within the City’s jurisdiction. Among the additions to the bylaw are those dealing with the powers and duties of authorised officials, equipment on or in respect of vehicles, animals and driving while under the influence.
The amended by-law also makes provision for the impoundment of vehicles in certain instances such as driving under the influence of alcohol, driving in a reckless and/or negligent manner or participate in illegal street racing.
The City’s By-law relating to Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances has been in existence since 2007. The amendments to the by-law focuses on the enforcement of the provisions in the legislation, and explicitly set out the powers of the City’s authorised officials, while also providing for measures to prevent the abuse of those powers.
To ensure the prohibition is enforced humanely and in compliance with the Constitution, the by-law has been amended to provide for the following:
A person found sleeping in a public place without authority will first be issued with a compliance notice;
Such a person only commits an offence if the person refuses a reasonable offer of alternative shelter;
A court may not sentence a guilty person to prison. It may only fine the person.
The City has an obligation to make sure that public open spaces remain sustainable, and that while they are offering assistance to help people off the streets, the by-laws are being applied to everybody at the same time.
Unlawful occupation is already illegal, but national legislation does not create effective prohibitions against the actions involved in invading the land and building structures. This by-law aims to enable the City to enhance its management of informality through the Managed Settlements Programme, and to prevent the unlawful occupation of land and buildings.
Apart from the health and safety hazards associated with settling on land that is unsuitable for habitation, unlawful occupation hampers planned projects and programmes and also impacts on the environmental health of waterways.
The bylaw also supports the City’s discretion to act on behalf of private land owners and other entities when unlawful land occupation occurs, and it imposes certain necessary and reasonable obligations on land owners, both private and public.