Have your say on amendments to by-law

The City has drawn public criticism for trying to make what some fear are unconstitutional changes to a by-law.

The public has until Sunday May 17 to comment on the proposed amendments to the streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisance by-law.

The by-law looks at the management of public places and noise levels on all City of Cape Town properties and proposes the following:

* An authorised official may instruct a person who is in contravention of the by-law to leave or remain out of an area where a contravention of the by-law has taken place.

* An officer may without a warrant arrest any person who is on reasonable grounds believed to have committed an offence in terms of the by-law.

* An officer may, without a warrant, seize and impound any property, including but not limited to, an item, goods, equipment, or a vehicle which is believed to have been involved in an offence relating to the by-law. The City may determine an impoundment fee.

* An officer may without a warrant enter, question or
inspect a premises or business or a vehicle that they suspect is
being used in contravention of the by-law.

The City’s safety and security portfolio committee chairman Mzwakhe Nqavashe said only section 22 of the by-law was amended with the intention to ensure more effective resolution of complaints from the public.

He said since its promulgation in 2007, there had been numerous developments, such as the expansion of the peace-officer powers of Law Enforcement officers.

The proposed amendments were criticised on Facebook community groups.

One resident said: “This is absolute crap. Do they have nothing better to do with their time?”

Another called the proposed amendments “unconstitutional”, saying: “We can’t allow this to be pushed through.”

On another group, a resident said: “Hardly anyone knows about these proposed amendments. They should be sent to everyone we know to object strenuously. If they are pushed through it will impact negatively on all our lives.”

Chairman of the Fish Hoek Valley Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association, Brian Youngblood, said they were discussing the amendments.

He said the amendments made no mention of threshold
decibels and hours of operation.

The association also believed impounding property was unnecessary and if property were impounded, it should be released without an impoundment fee.

“This foregone recovery of the impoundment cost to the City should prevent unfounded seizures,” he said.

Fish Hoek resident Leigh Palmer said while some of the sections in the by-law appeared to be above board, too many of them arbitrarily removed privacy and private-property rights.

“Giving individual officials power to suspend these rights based on untested allegations and ‘reasonable grounds’ is just not good enough. There needs to be a process of investigation in order to take such a step,” he said.

The amendment also lumped vehicles and private property in the same category. He described that as “ridiculous”, as moving violations were obvious and provided “reasonable ground” to investigate further.

At no time should any law enforcement official be allowed to violate private property rights and the right to privacy based on a hunch, he said.

“It creates too much room for corruption and intimidation and seeks, in my opinion, to short-cut the legal process.”

However, Mr Palmer said it might be a good idea to have the amendments apply only to certain sections of law enforcement such as the gang unit.

“It would help law enforcement to clamp down more easily on known criminals like gangsters and drug dealers,” he said.

On the timing issue which residents said was “inconvenient”, Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl said municipalities continue to function across the country which is why the draft budget was tabled at council for public comment.
The same applies to any other municipal service, including proposed by-law amendments.

“There is no deliberate attempt to push anything through without following the correct procedures,” she said.

The proposed amendments can be viewed here: https://tinyurl.com/yc3qccn5

Comments can emailed to lawenforcement@capetown.gov.za

Written submissions must be sent to Leon Wentzel, Law
Enforcement Department, Omniforum Building, 94 Van Riebeeck Street, Kuilsriver 7580 or comments can be completed online at www.capetown.gov.za/haveyoursay

For more information about the draft amendments, contact
Mr Wentzel on 021 444 0231 or lawenforcement@capetown.gov.za. Contact Anathi Dywili on
021 400 9825 or email anathi.dywili@capetown.gov.zaif you need help submitting a
comment.