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Fears that amendments to CoCT by-law will target homeless

The amendments would allow an authorised individual to conduct search and seizure operations without a warrant under certain circumstances.

Martin Lodewyk, an ex-prisoner living on the streets, says he’s received at least eight fines from the City of Cape Town thus far and says he cannot afford to pay it. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

CAPE TOWN - There's opposition to the City of Cape Town's proposal to amend its Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances by-law.

Housing and land advocacy group Ndifuna Ukwazi has made a formal submission opposing the move.

The amendments would allow an authorised individual to conduct search and seizure operations without a warrant under certain circumstances.

Ndifuna Ukwazi's Danielle Louw said that the amendments would unfairly target people who lived in public spaces, like the homeless.

In its current form, the by-law prohibits certain actions in public spaces, including bathing, erecting a shelter, urinating and sleeping overnight.

Louw fears that the amendments will further empower authorised individuals.

"The authorised individual can decide based on reasonable grounds whether to impound people's belongings but the amendment doesn't specify what will be these reasonable grounds."

She said that the proposed amendments would also allow an authorised official to instruct anyone in contravention of the by-law to leave and remain out of an area.

"Power to remove people from public places may also then lead to authorised officials removing homeless people."

The city argues that the amendments allow for more effective resolution of complaints from the public.

The time period for public comment has now ended.