The criminalisation of poverty and status in South Africa

Campaign partner, APCOF’s recent submission to the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing and the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights provided information concerning laws and regulations that prohibit or sanction begging, staying, sleeping, easting or undertaking any life sustaining activities in public spaces in South Africa. The submission was based on APCOF’s study of existing offences under the South African legal framework which proved that these current laws effectively criminalised poverty, homelessness and other forms of marginalisation, at national, provincial and municipal levels. The submission went further to denounce the existence and enforcement of these laws as they violate various human rights and freedoms, as protected in regional and international human rights framework, including the African Charter. Lastly, it provided the Special Rapporteurs with a status update on the progress towards decriminalisation and suggested alternatives within existing legislative and policy that allow governments to address poverty and homelessness as a human rights issue.