Case between homeless people and City postponed

The City of Cape Town has come under fire for fining homeless people.

The case against the City of Cape Town for fining homeless people and confiscating their belongings, has been postponed.

The matter was to be heard in court on Monday September 2, however, pro bono lawyers from Claremont-based Dingley Marshall Inc representing the homeless people had reached an agreement with the City, and are waiting for the Judge President to confirm the court date for Tuesday November 5.

The director of Dingley Marshall Inc, Lucien Lewin, told the Tatler that, the City had agreed not to harass or confiscate the belongings of homeless people while the court case is pending.

Mr Lewin said the City’s attorneys had filed an opposition on Monday August 26, and he was also contacted by the City’s attorney on the same day asking whether they would postpone the hearing.

“I advised the City’s attorney that, if we were to agree to such a postponement, it was imperative that the City preserved the homeless people’s rights pending the hearing of the interim interdict application.”

They had also agreed not to prosecute the applicants involved in the case.

However, the City is still entitled to issue fines.

The seven applicants in the case are Carin Rhoode Gelderblom, Emily Smith, Vuyo Mbozi, Natasha Present, Patricia Geyser, Beulah Meyer and Xolani Siboxo.

Mr Lewin said in a way, it was a minor victory for the applicants as well as homeless people, as his clients could not be prosecuted, and homeless people could no longer be harassed.

However, he said, they would like the agreement to be made a court order, so that if the City violates the terms of the agreement, that they could be held in contempt of court. “The court order can only be issued once all the parties agree on a date that the matter could be heard.”

By the time the Tatler went to print, there was no date set yet. The City did not answer questions from the Tatler when asked about details. However, the director of safety, Richard Bosman, said the City was served with an urgent High Court application on Monday August 22.

“The matter was set down for hearing on Monday September 2, where both parties agreed to postpone the hearing to Tuesday November 5. According to the City’s attorneys, the order postponing the matter must be endorsed by the Judge President. That has not taken place yet.”

Ms Rhoode Gelderblom said regardless of the application, her belongings were taken by law enforcement again in the early hours of Saturday morning.

She said she was relieved with the outcome but was tired. “The City needs to know that they are dealing with people.”

The City came under fire from the public earlier this year about fining the homeless for obstructing pavements and erecting structures. The City said it was not targeting street people, but merely enforcing by-laws.

Lawyers from Dingley Marshall Inc, after attending a meeting at Community Chest in Bree Street about the matter, have since filed an urgent interdict against the City, which called for the suspension of the fining and prosecution of homeless people, and preventing the City from confiscating their belongings.