The Western Cape High Court is hearing an application by the City of Cape Town to obtain a final eviction order for several homeless encampment sites across the CBD.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the hearing, which started on Monday, marked the culmination of interventions by authorities over 18 months to help the homeless off the streets while preserving public spaces for use by all, reports BusinessLIVE.

In February, the court gave the green light for eviction notices to be served at unlawfully occupied spaces along Buitengracht Street, FW De Klerk Boulevard, Foregate Square, a taxi rank and Foreshore, Helen Suzman Boulevard, Strand Street, Foreshore/N1, Virginia Avenue and the Mill Street Bridge. 

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (Seri), a nonprofit human rights organisation, appeared in court in April on behalf of homeless people opposing the pending evictions, and to ensure the process was just and equitable.

‘The occupiers have a constitutional right to legal representation and Seri’s representation of them ensures they are active participants in a matter that concerns their constitutional rights,’ Seri said in April.

Hill-Lewis said the CBD was the city’s main economic and tourism hub and public places needed to be open and available for use by all.

‘The city has gone to great lengths to extend every offer of care to individuals unlawfully occupying public places in the CBD. Accepting social assistance to get off the streets is the best choice for dignity, health, and well-being. Where offers of help to get off the streets have been persistently refused, we must seek the court’s help as a last resort. No person has the right to reserve a public space as exclusively theirs, while indefinitely refusing all offers of shelter and social assistance.’

Full BusinessLIVE report