The act of being homeless is not an offence - Cllr JP Smith

CapeTalk's John Maytham received a letter from a listener, Paul who raises concerns about people camping along the highway.

Paul's letter reads:

Hi John, I've noticed more people setting up camp on the sides of our highways. On the N1 and M3 especially. People camping in the centre island on Wynberg hill, Newlands under the bridge as you go up Hospital Bend, further up near the top of the bend at the start of De Waal Drive and many more spots all over the road network.

The law needs to be upheld and the people removed: setting up camp on these road verges pose a serious risk to themselves and motorists. I have on two occasions almost hit guys walking in the road on De Waal Drive. Their camp fires are a veld fire risk near the mountain. When I call to report on the City's helpline, there seems to be no clear view on whom should be dealing with this.

Mayoral Committee Member For Safety And Security in the Western Cape, JP Smith says the City of Cape Town embarks on enforcement operations according to the bylaws on a regular basis in the evenings.

The bylaws apply equally to everybody.

JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member For Safety And Security

Smith explains that a law enforcement cannot solve a homeless persons problem, adding that these are issues dealt with by social development.

Dynamics such as demographic changes push people to live on the live on the streets. Reintegrating them is a tall order for local government and with limited resources, he adds.

Smith says they receive complaints on a daily basis meaning that law enforcement is always kept busy.

The act of being homeless is not an offence. You cannot criminalise poverty in that manner. Where an offence is committed we will act on it.

JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member For Safety And Security

In the case of the homeless, we take a more sensitive approach says Smith. He adds that law officials are trained to deal with the homeless in a sensitive manner and approach.

Take a listen:

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