Yesterday [April 21], the City of Cape Town called for public comment on proposed amendments to it’s Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law. Since then, they have come under fire for some of their suggested amendments.
“The by-law relates to the management of streets and public places, noise nuisances and other incidental matters on all properties within Cape Town,” said the City in a Facebook post. “The proposed amendments relate specifically to section 22 of the by-law, guiding the City’s actions on transgressions and the recovery of costs where applicable.”
Essentially, the amendment provides increased power to officials such as police officers in terms of conducting searches with no warrants. Authorised officials can stop, get in to, and inspect any vehicle, person, or premises when they expect an offence.
Additionally, police are given increased ability to disperse crowds in public spaces. An authorised official can, according to the by-law, instruct people who contravene the by-law to remove themselves from, and remain out of, an area.
On the Facebook post alone, residents have shown their displeasure with the amendments. “Let me get this straight: You want to give one of South Africa’s most corrupt departments (the police force) the ability to search and seize any private property on the basis of “reasonable grounds”? By who’s judgement? A corrupt police official? Has the City gone mad? No, I’m sorry, there are court rooms for this sort of thing, let’s not make bad policemen worse policemen,” said one Facebook user.
Other Facebook users commented that this would be an infringement of human rights, against the rule of law. Many say the move is unconstitutional.
Moreover, some say this is a terrible time to make amendments. With a national lockdown and a pandemic on everybody’s minds, they claim it is an attempt to pass the amendments with little opposition.