Thursday, September 30, 2021

New laws for the homeless

 The Cape Town City Council has approved the new Unlawful Occupation By-law, including updates to the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law, which has been in existence since 2007.

The City’s Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato said that the City has a constitutional obligation to make sure that the public open spaces and city remain sustainable, that there is equality before the law.

According to the City, these by-law amendments are designed to help resolve public complaints more effectively. There are currently over 350 hotspots for public complaints around by-law violations relating to people living on the streets.

the law have 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;
  • They will be offered alternative shelter;
  • Such a person only commits an offence if they refuse a reasonable offer of alternative shelter;
  • In sentencing, a court will give a guilty person the option to pay a fine.

The by-law also limits and explicitly states that law enforcement may:

  • Direct a person to stop prohibited conduct, remove an obstacle, and to leave and remain out of a specified place
  • Issue compliance notices as well as notices to appear in court or pay a fine
  • Arrest a person who commits an offence in terms of the by-law and to search a person if necessary
  • Impound goods and materials as per the City’s Standard Operating Procedure on the Impoundment of Goods and Animals
  • Require identification

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