Refugees fined for transgressions

The Citys law enforcement agencies issued fines for by-law contraventions on Sunday March 22.

The City’s law enforcement held an operation on Sunday March 22 in Albertus Street, following the final relief order which was granted by the Western Cape High Court regarding refugees who had been living on the pavements in the area.

While no people were removed, a number of fines were issued for by-law transgressions, said the City’s executive director for safety, Richard Bosman.

The Western Cape High Court issued a final order in respect of the City’s application on March 17.

On Sunday March 1, the refugees were moved from outside the Central Methodist Mission in Greenmarket Square, following an interim High Court relief order.

They had been living outside the church since October.

They sought shelter outside St Mary’s Church, which led to clashes with the police, and eight refugees were arrested following a charge of trespassing from the church (“City enforces by-laws, removes refugees”, CapeTowner, March 5).

Mr Bosman said the City was still offering those who need temporary assistance, help to seek access to private shelters.

The City is again offering those occupiers who are willing to reintegrate into their former communities, transport to do so.

“The City has tabled numerous offers of assistance to the group, including assistance to seek access to private shelters in accordance with the rules for access of those facilities taking into consideration the directives as set out by the Covid-19 National Disaster Notice.”

He said the City will continue to protect the interests of its residents and businesses by enforcing its by-laws and will hold those accountable who are in contempt of the court order.

Meanwhile, business owners in the area have been struggling with the odours left behind by refugees living on the pavement, with at least one business losing money and clients because of the sit-in protest.

Some of the managers spoke to the CapeTowner on condition of anonymity.

A manager of a business close to where people are living said people were too afraid to walk through Albertus Street, as there were unpleasant smells and no space to walk on the pavements.

The manager said homeless people have also sought shelter among the refugees, which was problematic as the homeless often begged aggressively. The manager said they have lost a significant amount of money and clients, and the business had been suffering as a result. Another manager said while the protest had been quite peaceful, the refugees often ask the businesses for help with water and food.

They sometimes came in groups, which created a little discomfort. Most businesses complained about the smell of urine, as there were not sufficient toilet facilities in the area.

The CapeTowner approached the refugees for comment, to which they said they could not speak to the media without their lawyer.