john steenhuisen

Photo: Screenshot taken from an eNCA interview

Watch: John Steenhuisen chokes on question about homeless people [video]

Interim DA leader John Steenhuisen could not provide up an explanation for the City of Cape Town’s treatment of homeless people in an interview.

john steenhuisen

Photo: Screenshot taken from an eNCA interview

Steenhuisen was left dumbfounded by eNCA news anchor Shahan Ramkissoon’s line of questioning in an interview on Thursday evening.

John Steenhuisen eNCA interview goes south

The interview goes south at the 09:10 mark:

Steenhuisen was all set to outline the DA’s proposal on the six alternatives government could immediately pursue to tackle the energy crisis in his interview with Ramkissoon.

However, Ramkissoon’s interests were in the recent Western Cape High Court drama involving the City of Cape Town and homeless people.

On Thursday, the Judge Bernard Martin extended the Bozalek order – which prohibits the city from harassing homeless people – pending the outcome of a hearing on the constitutionality of some of Cape Town’s by-laws.

Ramkissoon took a visibly unsettled Steenhuisen through the statistics that were issued by the City of Cape Town, which indicated that at least 199 fines were issued to homeless people, including:

  • R300 fines for obstructing pedestrian traffic on sidewalks;
  • R300 fines for sleeping in public spaces; and
  • R1 500 for lighting a fire.

“There is no metropolitan government in this entire country that is doing more to uplift people out of poverty and into opportunity. If you look, even by national government’s own metrics, the highest access to housing, highest access to basic services, cheapest basket of goods, most pro-poor policies, these all come from the City of Cape Town. The most unequal metropolitan in the country is Buffalo City, led by the ANC,” Steenhuisen charged.

Cape Town is defiant on taxing the homeless

The two by-laws which are at the centre of this court case, relate to public spaces and waste management. Under these laws, it is illegal for people without shelter or a home to find means of survival in and around Cape Town.

The Sea Point Fresnaye and Bantry Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association, the Atlantic Seaboard Action Group and the Green Point Neighbourhood Watch have led the city’s defence, claiming that homeless people cannot “be immune from any consequences”.

Their concern is that the constant digging in rubbish, squatting and “aggresive” begging will negatively impact the city’s tourism and small businesses.

For Steenhuisen, the fight against homeless people is not unique to Cape Town.

“Cities have by-laws and these by-laws are not unique to the City of Cape Town. Where I come from, in Durban, I think if you have a look at the by-laws relating to homelessness there, they are far more draconian than anywhere else in the country,” the DA leader said.