Cape Town’s High Court is currently presiding over a significant legal battle that will determine the fate of approximately 260 homeless people who have been residing in the city’s central business district (CBD). The case arises from the City of Cape Town’s initial attempt in April to secure an eviction order aimed at removing these individuals from seven locations within the CBD.
However, the matter took a different turn when the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) stepped in to represent the homeless occupants, resulting in a postponement to allow them to file answering affidavits as litigants in the case.
According to Seri attorney Khululiwe Bhengu, the city presented its case in court on Monday, primarily focusing on the reasons why the court should grant an eviction order and an injunction against further occupation of the specific seven sites identified in the application.
Bhengu stressed that eviction without meaningful engagement and the provision of suitable alternative accommodation would only exacerbate the issue of homelessness.
The occupants’ core objective is to compel the city to fulfill its constitutional obligation, which entails providing suitable alternative accommodation in cases where eviction would render individuals homeless. Such accommodation must align with their rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis explained the city’s decision to resort to legal action, citing it as a last resort due to the occupants’ refusal of offers for care and assistance.