Over the last two decades, the City of Johannesburg has regularly embarked on big operations, directed against apparent spaces of vice.
While these operations are intended to show the authorities’ zero tolerance stance to crime, they are often characterised by an iron fist approach against minor misdemeanours.
By conflating diverse issues under an anti-crime umbrella, the local state criminalises poverty, obscuring and obliterating reasonable economic activity in its sweeping campaign against by-law infringements.
This ‘zero-tolerance’ approach was first made apparent in the late 1990s, when the City acted against the residents of so-called bad buildings in the inner city. According to a 2005 report by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, the evictions made 25,000 people homeless over the years and threatened the tenure of a further 60,000.
The matter eventually went to the Constitutional Court where, in a landmark ruling, the actions and the programme were damned for failing to support the lives of those most in need. Furthermore, the Court demanded the humane treatment of these residents.
In 2013, the City once again embarked on cleaning up and “dealing” with inner city issues through Operation Clean Sweep. This time, …
Source : Daily Maverick