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HRC takes CoCT to task for issuing fines to homeless people

City officials have reportedly issued 199 fines to homeless people for various by-law infractions.

The homeless have found shelter on the open District Six land near Cape Town. Picture: Bertram Malgas

CAPE TOWN - The Human Rights Commission has taken the City of Cape Town to task over its policy on the homeless.

City officials have reportedly issued 199 fines to homeless people for various by-law infractions.

The clampdown came as winter reached its peak and cold and rainy conditions looked set to continue.

The city has defended its policy, saying it was not being heartless.

Safety and security mayco member JP Smith said their key goal was to get homeless people off the streets and reintegrate them into society.

“No human being should be living on the streets. The core business of the city, where it gets involved with social development in as much as it has a mandate to do such, is all about reintegrating people with families, offering them shelter, working with the shelters to expand their space and creating jobs to help people get into those employment and a sustainable living condition.”

The Human Rights Commission was also taking up the cudgels for school children who didn’t have identity documents.

They were joining a case brought by the Centre for Child Law seeking clarity on the rights of children who didn’t have the relevant documents to register for school.

The HRC's Andre Gaum said they've been allowed to join a case in the Eastern Cape as a friend of the court.

“What we are saying is that the right to basic education is fundamental and it is immediately realizable that documentation can never be a reason for the exclusion of learners from basic education from our schools.”

The case was set to be heard in September.

LISTEN: Why homeless people can't 'just go home'

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