Housing Assembly Unlawful Occupation bylaw response

Submissions on the Draft Unlawful Occupation By-Law for the City of Cape Town

On behalf of the Housing Assembly, we hereby submit the following comments on the Draft Unlawful Occupation By-law developed by the City of Cape Town.

Chapter 1.

Section 1 Definitions.

This section must also define to us what is the difference between Legal occupation and Illegal occupation, because they have been calling occupations illegally, but they never explained to us the difference.

Chapter 2.4

The city wants to be the judge of whether should they service with interim / emergency basic services. The city has already failed to provide services for occupations that have been existing for a long time and until today they are still relying with interim services. This bylaw that the city has drafted is just an arrogant and trying to escape from its own responsibilities, they want to hide corruption by demolition of structures that they have committed to services them and misused the funds to something else.

The city already bullies the occupations by determining how much services should they provide to communities, and it doesn’t work. For instant Siqalo, this occupation has plus minus 6000 households, but they decide to offer 20 taps, that is how arrogant are they, how much more if they are the ones who are determining whether should they service or not.

One of the reasons the city doesn’t want to occupations is because they are struggling to make money, the tariffs or rates that they are benefiting from are decreasing and it’s because people are owning their own spaces, they are the ones who must spend money on provision of services.

Chapter 3 8.2a

If City is not the owner of the identified land, an authorized official must –
(a) notify the owner that the land has been identified as land prone to
unlawful occupation in terms of section 7(a) we as housing totally differ with this section and would like to get a provision of understanding.
According to chapter 3.7b the city speaks about identifying the potential signs of an unlawful occupations, We need to be clarified on what are those signs? and this also gives us a sense that indeed, there is a legal occupation.

C. we seek for clarity on the Subsection, they will keep a register of the identified land and details of the owners, this means the city will be playing a role of identifying privately owned lands and contact owners while they don’t even mind anymore? They will fence lands without the permission of the owner so that they can charge them high prices of the project.

According to chapter 4

Subsection 9b(iii) the City of cape town has no right to dictate to us that what kind of structures that determines homes what kind doesn’t. This contradicts with the constitution of this country. These too much powers that the city wants we as the community based organization do not want this Bylaw drafted by the city because it giving the city too much powers to continue to bully and also to loot from the poor that are even earning less salaries to survive.

What if the owner wants the land occupiers to be there and develop themselves?

The city on this bylaw, there are too much demands and unnecessary and very close to apartheid laws. Refer to Chapter 4 .11. G (2j) and (k) ( 1 and2j) Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Bylaw or disobeys any instruction or compliance order by an authorized official enforcing this Bylaw, shall be guilty of an offence.(k) transport persons, building materials and personal possessions for the purpose of an unlawful occupation .

An authorized official may without a search warrant search any person,
vehicle, or structure for the purpose of seizing any article which is, or is on
reasonable grounds believed to be, concerned with the commission of an
(a) the person consents to the search offence in terms of this By-law if –the person consents to the search, what law is this, this means we as the informal settlement are going to suffer from law enforcement that is already unlawfully evicting occupations operating corruptly with the city and sometimes these political parties that wants to seek relevance to their man handlers.

The City of CapeTown has already failed to provide services for communities either informal or informal structures , we as Housing Assembly cannot allow this bylaw to happen, we have engaged with may informal settlements as the organization, the people are afraid that they are going to lose their homes, they might be evicted / relocations that might take them away from comfort zones ,schools, CBDs etc.

In brief summary this draft of the city is a true reflection dictating government, it shows us that there are no plans for poor instead to protect what might be beneficiary to the city. The working-class communities are going to suffer more if we allow this to continue. Our submission is we reject this bylaw that the city wants to adopt in order to be in charge and not be hold accountable of its wrong doings and some of the things that the city is proposing here might are already being practicalized such as evicting without an court order. the city is already in court regarding illegal evictions, already they are determining whether this is the shack can be regarded as a home, why aren’t they questioned about those because we have many cases regarding that.
We believe the City is looking for a easier way to evict communities without a COURT ORDER ORTHE PIE ACT. The city’s definition is a clear indication that where people stay and what people staying in is not recognize as a home. So many people have lost their jobs and some cant find any jobs due to the economy challenges. Those structures that people put up is their homes, and it is their place of safety. The City don’t provide enough homes for people to live in. Many of our communities has three generations staying in one house, and that makes it impossible to cohabit with so many people in one house. That gives also rise to our people occupying pieces of land. We have families staying in some occupation for over twenty years. So many families have lost so much of their belongings in fires and flooding in the occupations. Due to the overcrowded space fires is the most common thing happening in the occupation, then we have a City that gives community a hard time when these events are happening, people receive the emergency kit that is used material from the city.

There are times that the community have to beg the councilor to follow up on their materials when fires is happening. When fires happen in the community most of the times there is little or no water to put out these fires, even the fire trucks run out water. So many people were evicted from there homes and occupations, what we have experience people being DUMP in BLIKKIES DORP, WOLWERIVIER AND KAMPIES. When you live in these sites where people are dump, we see how our people are being degraded and dehumanize cos the area where they are dumped where crime becomes the order of the day and police is too scared to enter these areas.

We have women who will go out and identify dead bodies, because the police will only come out when they have enough men power to do the job. So many rapes, abuse, drugs, violence and our elderly struggling in these occupations under the hands of their children, grand children and drug lords who groom our children to be hitmans and sell their drug. We have seen the fear on so many women in these occupations, it’s like they are walking on eggshells due to the violence that happens on a daily basis. The information of these violent cases is at delft police station. So many women are on medication due to stress and anxiety.
When communities are relocated, the city will say it is temporally, but as we have experience that becomes a permanent home to communities like BLIKKIES DORP, its ten years a temporally home to communities. Most of these temporally occupations have the toilets and water far from where they stay, at night it is not safe for women and children to use these toilets. With these occupations there is no privacy, and our young children are expose to all forms of sexual activities and abuse. The structures that’s been given to communities is very small, with no electricity, no water and no toilet inside of the structure.

In these occupations we have seen a rise in unemployment and poverty, so many people will be on the road to squirrel for something for the pot. We don’t believe the City have any intention to relocate or accommodate any community in a safe space, where there will be services provided, if they do give it will be very far out of the city. In Wolverivier the occupation is overcrowded communities is far from amenities and transport is a huge challenge. The crime in this area is becoming worse, due to unemployment and poverty. Women have a huge struggle with toilets and water that is far from their homes. We have seen an increase of violence and abuse of women and children are facing on a daily basis. The police station is very far from the occupation, so there is not much of police visibility. In Social Distance occupation in Khayelitsha law enforcement demolish the communities’ structures, without engaging with the community. They demolish and verbally abuse and physically abuse the community when communities try to engage with them. Law enforcement took the material without any permission and communication. This power that the police and law enforcement have, will reinforce the brutality that communities experience from them.

We believe the City will have too much power to evict and destroy our communities. Some of these people have lost their jobs and are unable to go and fetch their material at these places where they dump the material. Communities complained when their material are taken, they don’t get the same material back, and no one is taking the responsibility of people’s material. The material the city confiscate they give to communities when a fire happens in the informal settlements, and we believe the City is stealing from the poor. When the City dispossess and place our people in areas where they are not safe it puts so much fear, stress and anxiety in the women and children, cos they are taken out of their place of safety into the unknown. Police station, clinics and schools are far from these places, and some of the children
don’t attend school they are roaming the street. Under locked down it is even worse, cos no one check on our children when they don’t attend school.
Giving police and law enforcement the powers to search without a search warrant and criminalize our communities is a problem, on top of that we experience private securities abuse as well. We already experience this behavior of the police, where they force themselves into houses without a search warrant. In our community when they want to search a woman, and they don’t have a female officer with, they will ask any female to search another female but the way they ask to do it is in a very rude way and abuse way. We believe no one will be accountable for their actions, and they don’t wear their name tags so that communities can identify them.

We have communities that is occupying private land in Siqalo, and the landlord don’t have a
problem of people occupying. If landlords don’t have a problem with occupations, why does
the city makes it a problem. When the City dictates to landlords to compel them to take
steps with occupiers it will create a problem for communities. This will give the city the
power to not give services on these private land.

In Qandu Qandu communities have experience the city withdraw water supply to their area, without consulting communities. People with chronic ailments was affected and women when it comes to personal hygiene. This water issue happened in other areas as well. The city doesn’t care how many people lives in an occupation, they decide how many taps and toilets must be place in a occupation. Having so much power and control give the city a free ticket to do as they please. As Housing Assembly, we reject the UNLAWFULL OCCUPATION BYLAWS.

We believe the city cannot fulfill their mandate by building enough DECENT HOUSING for our community. The city is saying they have a backlog of 450 000 people that is on the waiting list, how long will communities wait for a house. We have so many elderly people mostly women in occupation that is on the waiting list for so many years. They are not able to buy a house, but to wait on government RDP housing.

The city is looking at INCLUSIONERY HOUSING and that don’t cater for the poor. The poor
and unemployed have no choice but to seek a piece of land to occupy, because of
unemployment poverty. We will have so many of our community with criminal records and
that will have an impact on their personal life when seeking for a job in these difficult times.
We can’t have a city that is a law unto themselves and disregard our institutions.
Does the City have a plan for our communities who stays in overcrowded places?

Housing Assembly is a community based organization, which makes it connect with the people from the occupations directly. What ever is written here is what the community says and feels about the bylaw and the wrong doings of the city. Our submission sounds general because it is what the people says, and we cannot change the struggle of our people and use our fluent terms of English. Housing Assembly stands with the Communities that there should be no such bylaw that will give The City of Cape Town such powers to dictate and control, this is the democratic country. Stephen Maciko Housing Assembly Secretary. 0621519501