Court grants order to evict hundreds of people living on streets of Cape Town (GroundUp) but judge puts strict conditions on the way the eviction must be carried out and emphasises that the city also belongs to the evictees, as it does to those who live in mansions.

By Tania Broughton, GroundUp

The City of Cape Town has been given the green light to evict about 200 people living on the pavement at several inner-city sites. But the “pavement dwellers” will have more than a month to leave and find alternative accommodation.

The ruling on 18 June by Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Michael Bishop follows a lengthy court battle between the City and the homeless groups occupying spaces along Buitengracht Street, FW De Klerk Boulevard, Foregate Square, Helen Suzman Boulevard, Strand Street, Foreshore/N1, Virginia Avenue and Mill Street Bridge in the city centre.

“The homeless people of the City do not exist separately from the rest of the residents. We are all part of the same whole”: This is an extract from the judgment handed down by Acting Judge Michael Bishop in the case between the City of Cape Town and people living on the pavements in the city centre. He went on to say: “The City consists of and belongs to those who work in its corner offices and live in the mansions of Higgovale and Clifton, just as much as it does to those who eke out a living on the City’s streets and sleep on its pavements and in its parks. We are all entitled to the same level of respect and concern from our City and from each other.”


The order was granted in terms of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land (PIE) Act.

Acting Judge Bishop ordered that the City must provide alternative accommodation at its “Safe Space” in Culemborg, which is also in the city centre. He said the homeless groups have about ten days to indicate whether they will move to this Safe Space. They should be allowed to live there for at least six months.

“Those who take up the alternative accommodation at the Safe Spaces, who are in a partnership with another [homeless person], and who require accommodation with their partner, are provided with accommodation for couples,” he ordered.

He also made orders to safeguard affected children, older people and disabled people living at these sites, and to ensure a just and lawful eviction process.

Judge Bishop said those who refused the offer of accommodation would be evicted and their structures demolished. However, their possessions must be kept in safe custody for six months.

He said he would “retain supervision” over the implementation of the order and directed the City – and the occupiers if they so wished – to file further affidavits on progress.

“We can only care about the homeless when we see ourselves in them; we can only realise our own humanity if we commit to realizing theirs; when we see that we are all a few bad decisions and some bad luck from life on the pavements. Umntu ngumntu ngabantu.” – Acting Judge Michael Bishop, handing down judgment in the case between the City of Cape Town and people living on the pavements in the city centre.


Read the full article on GroundUp.