‘Vagrants’ want a youth centre

2017-10-04 06:02
PHOTO: Makhosandile zuluThe group who live on Pietermiartzburg streets (back, from left) Kwanele Mncube, Malusi Ndlovu, and (front, from left) Sthembiso Vilakazi, Mxolisi Thusi, Simphiwe Mweli, Thokozani Mbhele, Nhlanhla Zondi and Sandile Gwala.

PHOTO: Makhosandile zuluThe group who live on Pietermiartzburg streets (back, from left) Kwanele Mncube, Malusi Ndlovu, and (front, from left) Sthembiso Vilakazi, Mxolisi Thusi, Simphiwe Mweli, Thokozani Mbhele, Nhlanhla Zondi and Sandile Gwala.

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INCLUSIVITY and the need for more than just a drug rehabilitation centre is needed for those living on the streets or who are hooked on drugs.

These are issues that six men, living on the Pietermaritzburg streets, said would help to reduce the number of vagrants in the CBD.

The Maritzburg Echo met with Kwanele Mncube, Thokozani Mbhele, Mxolisi Thusi, Simphiwe Mweli, Sthembiso Vilakazi and Nhlanhla Zondi, who have been vagrants for many years.

They were accompanied by Malusi Ndlovu, who runs an NPO, “You can Change” that works with those on the street.

“We need more than just a rehabilitation centre, we need a youth centre, a place where we can do something constructive with our lives once we have overcome our drug addictions,” said Mncube, who has lived on the streets for 10 years.

The six said such a place would ensure that those who have kicked their drug addiction would not have any idle time because they would be involved in activities at the youth centre.

They said the centre should run programmes that can open up employment opportunities and help those who have acquired the necessary skills to either secure or create employment.

The group believes that street people should be at the forefront, yet working with the municipality and social development and health departments, to establish rehabilitation and youth centres.

“Departments, businesses and the community who want to help should ask us what exactly it is we need.

“We are willing to do any job as long as it provides for our basic needs,” said Mbhele, who has lived on the streets for four years and is “living” near the Upper Crust area.

Thusi, who has been on the streets since he was young and who is “living” near the train station, said programmes run by the youth centre, whose aim would be to reduce the number of street people and help others overcome addictions, should be spread to surrounding townships because people who land up living on the CBD streets migrate from these locations.

“We know of abandoned buildings that can be used to establish a centre like this and we would make sure it does not resemble eMatsheni, but focuses only on helping young people get off drugs and off the streets,” said Mweli, who lays his head on the cold concrete near Old Prison.

“There are a lot of talented people who live here with us - musicians, singers, people talented in sports and academically gifted people as well,” said Vilakazi.

“They need to be helped and once they have received that help, a place is needed that would ensure they do not fall back on this life.”

“Reintegration is very important because some fear going back to their communities or their home because whenever criminal activities occur in their communities they become the prime suspects,” said the Loop Street “resident”, Zondi.

The group believe that what is crucial is that drug dealers are identified and removed from the inner city.

“This is known as the City of Choice, so it should be a city where everyone has the choice of becoming part of a community again and no longer a phara [outcast],” Mncube said.

There are a lot of
talented people that live here with us -
musicians, singers, people talented in sports and academically gifted people as well

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