City of Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit on Tuesday said he was still gathering information on controversial social media comments made by DA councillor Shayne Ramsay about homeless people.
“It was brought to my attention that the councillor could be in breach of conduct by bringing the council into disrepute,” he said.
“After I have all the information, I will apply my mind in the next six days to see the way forward.”
Ramsay, a ward councillor for the affluent Atlantic Seaboard, angered many with her recent Facebook post entitled “Vagrancy in Sea Point”.
She started out saying she met with residents, colleagues and staff from the City of Cape Town “to discuss this increasingly difficult problem.”
Ramsay said there were about 4,000 people living on the streets of Cape Town and generally categorised them as criminals, mentally retarded and social outcasts.
She initially planned a “march against grime” during which protesters would walk along the Sea Point promenade, “kindly asking anyone planning on sleeping [there] overnight, to move along”.
“Please join me, wearing a white top or T-shirt to stand out in the dark and in the theme of cleanliness,” she requested in the post made on Saturday, but removed later that day.
VAGRANCY IN SEA POINT:
This week I have met with resident, City staff, colleagues and Mayco members to discuss this increasingly difficult problem.
There are approximately 4,000 people living on the streets in greater Cape Town, generally comprised of three groups of people: criminals (who are in and out of overcrowded prisons), mentally retarded or social outcasts, and those who are genuinely down in their luck. Ward 54 has two dedicated social workers who profile these people, to assist in reintegrating those they can help.
We are a community, we are all in this together and vagrants are also people! But if they choose to live in a society like Sea Point, then they have to behave in a manner which is acceptable to the the residents.
So here is what we can do:
If you are threatened in any way, call Law Enforcement immediately on 021-596-1999. You can also report them for any indecent public behaviour and for trespassing. If you are concerned about their general wellbeing, you can call the City’s Street People number on 0800-872-201.
Since they rely on our handouts for their existence, if you stop giving to beggars, street people and car guards, they will move elsewhere. The GIVE RESPONSIBLY campaign welcomes donations to charities like The Big Issue, Onsplek and The Haven to name just a few.
Furthermore, or garbage bins are treated as buffet tables. Please don’t put your bins out the night before collection. If you can’t do it yourself, try to organize with your neighbours to put your bins out only when you hear the truck in the vicinity.
Minimize the amount of waste by recycling all plastic, glass, paper and cardboard. Averda is the recycling company who currently collects from the blocks of flats and businesses in the area. (They will also collect clear bags from single residences at designated points along their routes.) Otherwise you can always drop off recycling at the depot on Tramway Road near the Spar.
For those who have gardens, the City will donate a large green composter, enabling easy disposal of all uncooked biodegradable foods. (Home composting containers can be ordered from the City website.)
Then to kill several birds with one stone, I am trying to arrange a trial program with a few of those who would like to work, an opportunity to maintain the ablution facilities on the promenade and the beached until 10 at night. There is absolutely no point in having toilet facilities in public places if they are always closed!
Next, given that we have such a liberal constitution, there is not much that the SAPS can do to control vagrants. But what councillors can do is change the by-laws. So my next task is to review the “Streets and Public Spaces” by-law and make recommendations to council to tighten up the laws where appropriate.
Then tomorrow, as posted earlier, I am holding a table outside The Point to raise funds for Onsplek, so you are most welcome to visit and donate generously!
Finally, on Tuesday evening 6 December 2016, we are planning a MARCH AGAINST GRIME. We will meet at the pavilion at 20h00 and walk along the promenade until 21h00, kindly asking anyone planning on sleeping overnight to move along. I have invited Law Enforcement, the CID and SAPS to join us in solidarity. Please join me, wearing a white top or T-shirt to stand out in the dark and in the theme of cleanliness.
So here is what I have been doing and I implore YOUR participation in all of these activities!
In the same Facebook post, Ramsay suggested that while her ward was a “community” and “vagrants are also people”, nevertheless, “if they [the homeless] choose to live in a society like Sea Point, then they have to behave in a manner which is acceptable to the other residents”.
She said: “Since they rely on our handouts for their existence, if you stop giving to beggars, street people and car guards, they will move elsewhere…
“Furthermore, our garbage bins are treated as buffet tables. Please don’t put your bins out the night before collection.”
Ramsay went on in the post to suggest calling the police “if you are threatened in any way” and to “report them [the homeless] for any indecent public behaviour and for trespassing”.
She later issued an apology on her social media accounts to everyone she had offended, mentioning in particular “the homeless South Africans in Cape Town”.
On Tuesday, Smit said there were certain human resource principles that needed to be followed.
If there were grounds for further investigation, Ramsay would have seven days to respond and obtain legal representation.
“It is a very fair process and open,” Smit said.
“I take this matter very seriously.”
Attempts to speak to Ramsay directly failed as calls to her cellphone went through to voicemail.