South Africa: Criminalising Cape Town's Homeless People Is Unconstitutional


Making the homeless community invisible to society is not the appropriate way to deal with the challenges they face. This action has the potential to drive them underground and increase their vulnerability and stereotyping.

An urgent discussion initiated and hosted by the Community Chest took place at its offices in Cape Town on 8 July 2019 to consider the recent reports of fines being issued to homeless persons living on the streets of Cape Town.

The meeting was attended by 16 organisations and their representatives.

The event was held in the wake of media reports of 199 fines being issued to homeless people by local law enforcement. It was arranged as an initial fact-gathering discussion to establish whether shelter organisations had any experiences and/or knowledge of the reported fines. It also sought to hear accounts of the magnitude and impact of fines imposed on homeless persons in Cape Town.

The group expressed concern that the decision to issue fines under the current by-law to the most vulnerable and poorest citizens was a betrayal of the essence and values of our Constitution and would, in effect, be giving more power to very powerful forces over increasingly vulnerable people.

The continued referencing...

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