City fines street people but can’t say if they pay

Five makeshift shelters on the pavement on Koeberg Road near the Caltex garage in Milnerton.

It’s unclear whether any of the more than 140 fines issued, in April, to street people for unlawful land occupation and other by-law transgressions in the greater Milnerton area has been paid.

The fines were issued across three wards in suburbs that, like many other areas across the city, are struggling to contain the rapid spread of homelessness and, more lately, a surge in littering and dumping.

The City told Tabletalk that the number of fines it issued for unlawful land occupation, dumping and littering were “consistently” high, and were mostly issued to squatters in tented camps.

The City said there had also been a spike in littering and dumping this year.

According to a report tabled at the Sub-council 3 meeting on Thursday May 19, law enforcement officers, in April, fined 71 street people in Ward 4, 12 in Ward 5 and 62 in Ward 113.

The report was made available on the City’s website this month.

Ward 4 includes Phoenix, Milnerton Ridge, Joe Slovo Park, Sunset Beach, Summer Greens, Montague Gardens and Royal Ascot.

Ward 5 includes Bothasig, Edgemead, Annandale Farm, Atlas Gardens Business Park, Burgundy Estate, Cape Farms, PetroSA Tank Farm, Richmond Park, Richwood, and a portion of Montague Gardens.

Ward 113 includes West Riding, Killarney Gardens, Sunridge, Flamingo Vlei, Killarney Gardens, and parts of Milnerton.

A homeless man who built a shelter at the beach in Blouberg two months ago, recently told Tabletalk he had racked up R5 000 in fines that he could not afford to pay. His friends also claimed they don’t settle the fines, known as Section 56 notices, as they’re unemployed (”Beach squatters threaten tourism, says civic,“ Tabletalk, Wednesday June 15).

Asked whether the fines were followed up, the City replied with an unsigned statement, saying: “The fines are a summons to appear in court; however, there is an admission-of-guilt amount that can be paid to prevent a court appearance.

“There is therefore a pay date and a court date on the summons. If an individual fails to pay the admission-of-guilt fine before pay date and also fails to appear in court on the stipulated date, then a warrant is then generated by the court.”

Asked how many of the fines issued in April had been paid to date, the City said it is a “mammoth task” to track down the fines.

Asked whether issuing fines to the homeless had become an academic exercise, the City said: “The City’s law enforcement department receives hundreds of complaints each month from communities about anti-social behaviour and by-law transgressions committed by persons living on the street.

“All laws, including by-laws, are of general application and apply equally to persons from all walks of life. The prescripts in the by-laws address the unlawful activity and not a specific group of persons.”

In the operations in April, law enforcement officers also fined two traders in Ward 4 and another two in Ward 113 for contravening the Informal Trading By-law.

The officers also fined 129 people for dumping and littering in Ward 4 (64 fines), Ward 5 (12 fines) and Ward 113 (53 fines).

They issued 61 fines for those who flouted the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law: 31 in Ward 4, three in Ward 5, and 27 in Ward 113. Seven fines were issued for “non-moving traffic violations”, which usually relate to parking and stopping where motorists are not allowed to.