Can’t keep up with the vagrants

Juan Loubser, Plumstead

It did not take these vagrants long to destroy the cleanliness that we had for one full day here in Burnham Road Park.

This matter has gone too far and we, Pick * Pay Plumstead, Burnham Place cottages (adjacent to park), law enforcement and myself cannot keep up with the destructive nature of these vagrants… and yet they still come out of their hiding places at night just to show that nothing yet again has been done to stop
them.

All places have a leader and the one in charge here in Plumstead is an old woman that has a major foot problem and can hardly walk. She is king and on her command Plumstead must endure this filth. Please have them removed from the sidewalk’s sleeping on Main Road next to Standard Bank.

I would not suggest anybody to walk there at night.

Carol Bew, ward councillor for Ward 73, responds: It always amazes me to how people can go to all the trouble to report service delivery needs to the media and can’t wait to express their discontent. This could be so avoided by having residents become active citizens and logging a simple service delivery request by sending an SMS to 31220 for electricity technical faults and 31373 for water technical faults or an email (contact.US@capetown.gov.za) with the City of Cape Town would serve not only themselves but
the broader commu-
nity.

With regards the Plumstead parking lot and vagrants, in order to bring some kind of resolve each ward in the sub-council has a dedicated law enforcement officer who regularly checks the area and organises clean-ups.

Residents can be active citizens in logging service requests on the City’s service notification system. The City’s electronic reporting system will provide residents with a reference number so they can track the progress of the request that they have logged. Residents can use one of the following options to log notifications: Residents can use the mobi site to report faults such as bush clearing needed, mowing, potholes, water leaks, electricity failures and illegal dumping, among other service requests. The mobi site can be accessed via one’s smartphone at: http://www.capetown.gov.za/mobi or SMS 31373.

In the case of the matter being urgent and out of control, call 107 (from the landline) or 021 480 7700 from a mobile phone.

Eddie Andrews, the mayoral committee member for area south, responds: Homelessness is not unique to Cape Town – it is a worldwide phenomenon that is more prominent in some places than others, largely due to economic circumstances. As with any other city, Cape Town is caught in the very unenviable position of managing the rights of street people and those of the rest of the population.

Street people are entitled to freedom of movement as outlined in the Bill of Rights. Also, it is not illegal to be homeless. However, like everyone else, street people are expected to abide by the laws of the country and the by-laws of the City – particularly the by-law relating to streets, public places and prevention of noise nuisances which prohibits certain behaviours.

The law enforcement department conducts regular patrols in identified hot spot areas. Staff act on by-law contraventions and will attend to any illegally erected structures, fires in public places, anti-social behaviour, etc. In addition, the City’s social development department engages street people with various offers of assistance, but the City cannot force anyone to accept help; however, action will be taken against anyone who transgresses by-laws or other legislation.

That being said, due to shortcomings in national legislation, law enforcement as it relates to street people is ineffective in that we cannot issue fines or arrest them to appear in court in relation to these charges. While the City is taking steps to address these shortcomings, we cannot forge ahead until the national government addresses these legal weakness-
es.

In the interim, the City will continue its social and enforcement actions to the best of its ability, while also promoting its Give Responsibly campaign which encourages members of the public to refrain from indiscriminate handouts and to support shelters and other registered organisations instead. In addition, the recreation and parks department will conduct additional cleaning of the Burnham Road Park.

Members of the public can contact the City’s toll-free number on 0800 872 201 to ask how to assist street people. They can also direct complaints about street people to this number.