Cape Town – Lawyers representing seven homeless people seeking a final interdict preventing the City from fining them, say they are preparing to bring a separate application to set aside the by-law that allowed the City to fine them for sleeping rough on pavements and in the doorways of businesses.
This was one of the matters unpacked yesterday at a round-table discussion hosted by the Community Chest, where civil society organisations spoke about the residents of Sea Point and the Atlantic Seaboard raising funds to join the City as friends of the court to prevent the interim interdict from being made final.
The case will be heard on December 3. “We received the court papers from the residents of Gardens and associations around the Atlantic Seaboard on Friday, where they asked to be friends of the court,” said Lucien Lewin, a director at Marshall Dingley, representing the homeless.
“In their application, they were speaking about many of the same issues raised by the City, which is the problem of vagrancy, as well as their concerns about crime committed by homeless people. However, in order for a party to be an amicus curiae (friend of the court ) new issues or information not presented in the original case needs to be brought forward,” he said.
Lewin said that while the case to be heard in the Western Cape High Court next month would focus on the City’s fining of the seven homeless people and on the removal of the possessions of all street people, thereafter, the law firm would be making a separate application calling for the 2007 by-law relating to streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisances to be reviewed.
“We believe that the City’s interpretation and enforcing of the by-law is unconstitutional, so either they are reading the by-law incorrectly or alternatively, if it is found that their interpretation is correct, then we are calling for the by-law to be revisited,” he said.
Carin Gootkin, activist and board member at NGO Souper Troopers, said it would be advisable for the civil society organisations who want to support the case to rather apply to be friends of the court in the review application.
“While we can support the interim case in December, actually going to court on the day could cause delays to proceedings, which is something we do not want,” she said.
Peter Solomon, director of The Hope Exchange, said his organisation had also submitted an affidavit in support of the seven fined homeless people. "It was a challenge tracking down the clients, which is why there are only seven applicants in the case,” he said.