Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s demolition of tents housing homeless people in Green Point, has raised the ire of homeless activists, who called the eviction illegal because the tents were on private property.
The Rehoming Collective, a group advocating for homeless people, has demanded answers from the City, after law enforcement officers evicted people who have been living in the tents and informal structures for more than a year.
More than 20 people living in “Tent City” on the grounds leased by the Green Point Tennis Club, were evicted by the City’s enforcement officers on Monday.
Rehoming Collective member, Carlos Mesquita said the City had broken the law.
He alleged that they were not permitted to evict anyone off private property.
A concerned Atlantic Seaboard resident, Catherine Dodge said the officers were not consistent with information, and were not forthcoming with documentation that was needed.
Dodge said in order for evictions to be conducted, a court interdict has to be produced, and only then are officers allowed to come and remove the personal belongings and tents of the individuals.
"I have asked the lead operator in charge of the operation for the documentation, and they were unable to provide it to me. I asked the individuals who are being evicted if they had been shown the court interdict, no interdict had been shown," said Dodge.
She said that after seeking legal advice, a case was laid against the City manager, the mayor and the lead officer. There were also plans to submit a spoliation claim against the City.
The City said it received correspondence regarding the matter, and requested certain information on the allegations made.
"The City will assess its position once it receives the information. The City’s rights remain reserved," the City said.
Ndifuna Ukwazi Law Centre attorney Daniellé Louw, said the occupiers, who are represented by the centre, were in the process of approaching the Western Cape High Court on an urgent basis for an order directing the City to return their belongings.
Louw said the illegal eviction of occupants was an inhumane and senseless act of brutality by the City.
“During the inhumane eviction, law enforcement officers forced occupiers out of their homes and ordered them to remove their possessions before they dismantled tents, demolished homes and confiscated occupiers’ personal belongings,” she said.
Video: Armand Hough/African News Agency
Louw said many occupiers lost personal effects, including identity documents, drivers’ licenses, clinic and medication cards, without which they would be unable to access social support grants or obtain chronic medication.
She said some occupiers were allegedly physically and verbally assaulted by law enforcement officers, including one woman who was tackled to the ground and threatened with arrest after she asked an official to produce an eviction order.
Louw said many have suffered from evictions after losing their jobs, livelihoods, and homes as a result of the economic devastation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said the City’s illegal actions had left the occupiers destitute and without alternative accommodation.
"This forced displacement of vulnerable people, amid the peak of Cape Town’s third wave of Covid-19 infections, exposes the City’s lack of sustainable solutions for dealing with people who experience homelessness,” said Louw.