Eviction notices will be served to the unlawful occupants in hotspots along Buitengracht Street, FW De Klerk Boulevard, Foregate Square, Taxi Rank and Foreshore, Helen Suzman Boulevard, Strand Street, Foreshore / N1, Virginia Avenue and Mill Street Bridge in the city.
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The Western Cape High Court has granted the City of Cape Town’s application for eviction notices to be served at various unlawful occupations in the CBD. Notices will be served prior to the next court hearing scheduled for April 2023, where the court may grant a final eviction order.
The City’s eviction application includes the municipal-owned land adjacent to the traffic intersection at the Cape of Good Hope Castle in the city centre.
The City said, “The National Government owns the large portion of land directly adjacent to the Castle and the Moat, with the legal responsibility for its vacation residing with the Department of Public Works. The City has written to the responsible department over the past few months regarding this matter, which impacts the public health, safety, businesses and tourism around this critical heritage site.”
The City’s social development officials have made repeated offers of social assistance to those unlawfully occupying public spaces in the city as part of a city-wide approach to assessing the social circumstances of those living on the streets while offering help and dignified transitional shelter.
The social development programme seeks to help reintegrate people living on the streets back into society or reunite them with family. The programme also offers addiction treatment, referrals for psychiatric treatment, personal development planning and even employment opportunities.
While many have accepted the support of the programme, the unlawful occupants receiving notices are those who repeatedly refuse all offers of social assistance from the City while continuing to occupy busy intersections and road reserves in the CBD.
Cape Town Mayor Hill-Lewis said, “We have done our absolute level best over the past year to extend every offer of care to each of these people, and to help them off the streets. Where this has been persistently refused, we must now ask the courts for the order we are seeking.”
The City will only approach the court as a last resort and only in cases where all offers of support are indefinitely refused.
The mayor adds, “No person has the right to reserve a public space as exclusively theirs, while indefinitely refusing all offers of shelter and social assistance.”
“Our city’s public places serve important social and community purposes, and must be open and available for all.”
Illegal occupations of City open spaces impact the safety of traffic and pedestrians, as well as local businesses critical to growing the economy. Accepting social assistance to get off the streets is the best choice for dignity, health, and well-being. In Cape Town we have responded to the national and global challenge of homelessness by expanding our Care Interventions to help people off the streets, with R77 million for Safe Spaces and social programmes this financial year, as the only metro dedicating a social development budget to this important issue, ” Mayor Hill-Lewis concluded.
The City said that it will continue to add more transitional shelter beds in the coming months to help more people off the streets across different parts of the metro.
“An over 300-bed Safe Space is on the cards for Green Point, to help people off the streets in the CBD and seaboard area. The City will soon file a planning approval application for this new facility, which will follow the full regulatory and planning process before being implemented. Comment by affected parties will be called for and duly considered.”
As part of the City’s Winter Readiness Campaign 2023, a total of 450 beds will be added across two facilities in the east of the CBD, with plans to increase Safe Space capacity in Bellville, Muizenberg and Durbanville in the coming months. The campaign is also making progress on repurposing other municipal-owned sites elsewhere in the metro, working together with NGO partners, CIDs and residents.
According to the City, it has committed more than R142 million over a three-year period to expanding and operating Safe Spaces where these are most needed. This is over and above its ongoing support to NGOs assisting the homeless, including grant-in-aid funding.
The City’s Safe Space model includes:
- Dignified shelter
- Comfort and ablutions
- Two meals per day
- Access to a social worker on-site
- Personal development planning,
- Various social services including ID Book and social grant assistance,
- Family reunification services
- Access to substance and alcohol abuse treatment,
- Skills training,
- Help to find a job, and
- Access to EPWP work placement
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