Homelessness on the increase
By Sinazo Kleinveldt
Vagrants standing on street corners and traffic lights are an increasing trend creating safety concerns for themselves and motorists.
The number of homeless people moving from the city to the suburbs has escalated substantially, during the lockdown, as a result of the pandemic.
While it is mostly men and young children trying to get work, food, or money, many residents claim they are a safety risk in the neighbourhoods.
Loitering around, littering sidewalks, and urinating on the pavements are some issues that arise from homelessness with the more serious being the safety of women and children, complained many residents and businesses in Berea, Nahoon, Vincent, and Beacon Bay.
The beggars have increased threefold in ward 18, said councillor Jason McDowell. “Every intersection has beggars asking for money in different ways, but most are right up against the vehicles or leaning in the windows pressurising the drivers. Due to the pandemic, this spreads fear as there is no social distancing and none of the beggars are clean,” added McDowell.
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McDowell continued to say that when the residents stop at shopping centres or shops, they are harassed by vagrants claiming to be car guards and asking for donations. These are issues raised by residents at public meetings.
VAGRANT BEATEN UP
IN BEACON BAY
In another incident, a video went viral on social media of a man brutally beating a beggar, Ayanda Mlotha, in Beacon Bay.
Ayanda claims he did nothing to upset the man, he was begging just like he does any other day. Most beggars said that jobs are scarce, and they can at least buy some food with the little money they get from motorists.
HOMELESS PREFERS TO CAMP
Eastern Cape Rising Sun spotted a few homeless in Nahoon, Beacon Bay and Berea.
At the corner of Beach Road and Drake Road, one man who identified himself as Phila Mase, from Mdantsane, is a permanent resident on the sidewalk, where he sleeps, goes to the toilet, and eats.
Mase told Rising Sun reporters that he preferred to stay in Nahoon, as that is the only place where he gets food from people since he is homeless and camps with all his belongings. Mase was not willing to answer any further questions.
COUNCILLOR LASHES OUT AT GOVERNMENT
“A place of safety should be provided for those in need, but the government has failed on this front. Not everyone can be blamed on the pandemic as many of those vagrants are drug abusers and alcoholics, who go on to cause trouble in the ward once they get their money and get drunk or high. This is where the fights and threats to the public start.” said Cllr McDowell.
He added that many of the vagrants build shelters illegally on nature reserve land leading to littering and fires that put nature and residents in danger. He said that the indigent people are also taking over vacant houses illegally. They are either breaking down the house to steal all the bits to sell or turning them into dens that are very unsanitary, said Cllr McDowell.
This, he says, leads to aggression towards the legal landowners around them, and there have been threats of burning down resident’s homes.
“National, provincial, and local government has let everyone down by not providing help for those in need,” added McDowell.
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT RESPONDS
Like Cllr McDowell, residents are asking questions as to what is government and social development are doing to help provide food and shelter for the homeless and to locate where they come from returning them to their homes.
Speaking to the Department of Social Development that is responsible for allocating shelter to the homeless, Nomalanga Lucwaba, District Communications Officer, said that they provide shelter and meals for the homeless. She added that social workers are allocated for all cases and to those homeless that are willing to be helped, are reunited with their families. Lucwaba explained that some escape from the shelters and go back to the streets. “Unfortunately, we can not force them to stay if they do not want to, but we do our best to provide shelter and meals for them,” said Lucwaba who urged residents to contact social workers to help remove the homeless off the street.