Our response to concerns regarding homelessness and illegal land invasions

The approach to finding sustainable solutions to help the homeless in Cape Town is shifting, especially in light of COVID-19.

The recent High Court judgement against the City and various other parties demonstrates an attempt by authorities to safeguard vulnerable persons across the metropolitan area while we endure this state of disaster. However, the judgement brings into question the impact of illegal informal occupation of land designated for public use.

The High Court interdict means that both the City and private landowners are prevented from demolishing unoccupied informal structures, or evicting people from them. The City are appealing the dangerous High Court interdict which prevents the protection of property from land invasion. They believe that changing this verdict is vital for them to uphold the Rule of Law and protect public land intended for services, housing, community facilities, schools and transport services.

What are we doing?

Our team and board of directors are reaching out to partners, landowners and concerned NGOs. We intend to coordinate a plan of action so that we can respond to, and rectify, the issue of the construction of illegal informal structures.

COVID-19 has taught us many things, not least the benefit of being more focused on our own communities. As the pandemic continues to affect the day to day activities and movements of the public under lockdown, there is growing concern over what our team are doing for the homeless and unemployed.

Our CEO, Marc Truss, explains how the GP/OKCID is dealing with the current homelessness situation in the Green Point and Oranje-Kloof areas: “Because of the High Court interdict preventing landowners from exercising their right to remove empty, unoccupied structures as a means of protecting property from invasion, we’re trying to work with, advise, and guide the homeless. We’re trying to communicate that we’re not hard and inflexible – we listen and offer solutions. We speak to the homeless and explain that we can’t give them a place to live, but to live on the street means they have to clean up after themselves. Those who don’t abide by this are warned, and as a final action, arrested. This has been working in the meantime.”

What you can do?

The most effective way for you to help the homeless is to give responsibly. Jane Meyer, MPRA coordinator, explains that giving responsibly means donating to NGOs and other organisations committed to helping the homeless, such as night shelters, rather than giving ad hoc donations to the homeless on the streets. By donating to shelters such as The Haven Night Shelter on Napier Street or the City’s Space in Culemborg and NGOs like Ladles of Love or RPJ Helping Hands, residents support assistance to, but also the continued social development, of the homeless. Read our recent blog post for more information on how you can help contribute to sustainable solutions.

Should you witness the start of illegal invasions of land or informal structures being constructed, please immediately call 107 (from a landline) or 021 480 7700 (from a cell phone) as the structure can only be removed if Law Enforcement arrive whilst it is being put up.

REPORT A PROBLEM

If you have information about any suspicious behaviour or witness a crime please report it to us immediately. Please provide as much detail as possible.