Homeless eye court date with City

The shelter at Strandfonteins sports grounds.

About 150 homeless people housed at the City of Cape Town’s temporary shelter at the Strandfontein sports field have appointed a lawyer to represent them in court.

They have mandated attorney Vernon Seymour, who represents the Strandfontein Ratepayers’ Association (SRA) and the Strandfontein Social and Economic Development Forum (SSEDF) in a Cape High Court matter against the City to have the camp site closed and services for homeless people decentralised.

On a signed document headed “Homeless People’s Forum”, they list their names, surnames, identity numbers and signatures.

They are unhappy with council’s treatment of them.

“The City Council has exposed us to massive health risks in the camp and don’t seem to care.

“We hereby confirm that we have decided to take the City Council to court for the violation of our human rights because we want the court to sanction them for what they did and for them to fulfil their legal obligations,” read the document.

They appointed Mr Seymour and attorney Jonty Cogger to represent them in court and wish to join the Strandfontein community’s matter.

They have also mandated fellow resident Carlos Mesquito to sign all court papers on their behalf.

Speaking to the Plainsman yesterday, Tuesday May 5, Mr Seymour confirmed that he would be representing the homeless people.

He was at the sports field gates on Friday May 1 but was barred from entering.

Since then Strandfontein residents who have access to the field have been asking the homeless people questions and sending their answers to Mr Seymour.

He said the SRA and the SSEDF were waiting to meet with the City after it closed the camp site on Thursday April 30.

At about the same time, Judge Taswell Papier presided over the matter and had wanted input from the homeless people as respondents in the application.

The Strandfontein civic groups instructed their lawyers to postpone the case and requested an urgent meeting with the City, including mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien.

The City filed a detailed affidavit setting out the medical, health and safety measures in place at the shelter, including measures related to physical distancing and hygiene protocols mandated in terms of the National State of Disaster declaration in relation to Covid-19

According to a City media statement dated Thursday April 30: “The shelter will be closing over the coming weeks, and the occupiers will be moved in a phased approach to a number of decentralised sites.” It said that the movement of people and any relocation would have to take into account the current regulations, the medical and social needs of the occupants and their human rights.