No progress on street kids in CBD

2010-03-31 00:00

BUSINESSPEOPLE in the CBD near Henrietta Street say they are tired of empty promises made by government officials that they will move the community of destitute children living in the area.

The children live across from the Premier’s Office in squalid conditions, many of them sleeping in a makeshift shelter against a concrete wall.

The Witness previously reported on the plight of the children and of the businesspeople there. At the time, the Premier’s Office released a statement, saying that the Human Rights Directorate will co-ordinate efforts to assist the children.

However, almost a year later, nothing has been done and the situation is getting worse as more children move into the area, creating more frustration for the businesses there.

A worker in the area said that government officials have failed to attend to the situation. “The authorities have never tried to resolve the situation — and these children will never move from this area because they get everything that they want.”

A businessman criticised the government for failing to do its job.

“If this were on the outskirts of the city, I could understand, but this is in the middle of the CBD — and with the tourists coming, people are going to see children living in such conditions.

“Each day the number of children living there increases. I estimate that there must be more than 30 children.”

He said the presence of the street kids is also negatively impacting upon his business.

“Many of my customers are refusing to park in Henrietta Street because of the children, and the women are now afraid to walk on that street because they fear that they will be mugged.”

He said the children are engaging in unsavoury behaviour in the area. “They are having sex there, and some are falling pregnant and having children there.

“Businesspeople are very concerned about the situation. We are not asking that they be dumped in some graveyard, but the authorities should try to teach these children some skills so they will be put back on the right track,” he said.

Attempts to obtain comment from the Premier’s Office were unsuccessful.

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