We welcome the opportunity to provide comments on the City of Cape Town’s proposed amendments to the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law, 2007 (the ‘By-law’). Many of our constituents are disproportionately impacted by this specific By-law, including direct and indirect discrimination in its enforcement. We are concerned not only about the over-reach of the proposed amendments in terms of existing legislative frameworks, but at how the proposed amendments will aggravate the discrimination, and rights violations, already experienced by our constituents if passed by the City. We also have significant concerns regarding the process for consultation on the amendments, which effectively and functionally exclude the voices of those most impacted by the proposals.
The proposed amendments to the By-law in no way ameliorate the harmful impact of the existing By-law, and in fact we are concerned that they may exacerbate it by:
- Criminalising the existence of street homeless people in the City of Cape Town through the proposed ‘instruction to leave’ power;
- Legalising the search and seizure of homeless persons’ property;
- Unconstitutionally interfering with a persons’ right to privacy and dignity; and
- Entrench the City’s law enforcement approach to homelessness, rather than addressing the root causes, and taking a developmental approach to addressing this aspect of community safety.
Finally, we must reiterate the challenge in presenting submissions on this issue that includes the voices of people who are most impacted, due to the short comment period during lockdown. We call on the City to have public hearings to ensure that these crucial voices can be heard.