Removal of homeless people on mountain irks residents

The removal of 15 people living on a Simon’s Town mountain slope has upset some residents but others say this was a necessary crime prevention exercise after years of trying to find homes for them.

The people had been living in lower mountain slopes, in the area between the navy’s Waterfall Barracks, Palace Hill Road and the Happy Valley Shelter.

Palace Hill Road resident Terry Honeyman said she was shocked at how the people were treated when they were moved from the mountain and their tents taken town on Tuesday March 2.

“I know two guys in the tents there, they are very decent,” she said. “The poor guys were so humiliated, they were just devastated.”

She said the men were treated “worse than criminals”.

“Simon’s Town needs another shelter,” she said.

Wynberg cluster police spokes- person, Captain Angie Latchman, said the removal of the people from the slope had been a joint operation between the military police, SAPS, law enforcement, the ward councillor and a cleaning team from the City of Cape Town “ with the specific aim of addressing the use of drugs in the vicinity of Jurassic Park”, she said.

“Jurassic Park has been identified as a problematic area that is frequented by criminal elements. SAPS Simon’s Town have received several complainants by the Simon’s Town community as well as the neighbourhood structures, hence the regular crime prevention operations in the area,” she said.

“The station commander of SAPS Simon’s Town, Captain Jacqui Johnson, views drugs and drug-related crime in a very serious light and wishes to reiterate the police’s commitment in eradicating criminal elements in the policing precinct of Simon’s Town.”

Ward councillor Simon Liell-Cock, who was present when the people were moved, said there had been no excessive heavy-handed tactics and that all had been given the opportunity and transport to move whatever they desired.

Some, however, were not happy with having to move.

“The City has over the past four years made repeated attempts to assist these people – relocation to family, finding space in shelters, social workers – many took up the offers but many declined,” he said.

“The area was previously cleaned up and fenced off and these street people were trespassing – they had broken the fence and removed the no entry sign.

“Some of the “decent” people are psychiatric cases who should really be in an institution, some of them have homes and families and jobs but they choose to live in the bush or on the street.

“Many of them had been kicked out of Happy Valley for behavioural or drug abuse reasons or they had overstayed their time.

“It is not in anyone’s interest for these people to remain on the street – the City of Cape Town has shelters for street people and programmes to reintegrate them into society. “The ‘ag-shame’ response is a cop-out. Instead, if the residents who complained would take these ‘decent people’ in and assist to rehabilitate and then reintegrate into society, that would be commendable.”