Homeless find home under bridge

2016-02-24 06:00
WHILE people walk on the bridge, there is a bedroom with two beds, a wall clock and television under it. This is not a display, but a home for the homeless. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

WHILE people walk on the bridge, there is a bedroom with two beds, a wall clock and television under it. This is not a display, but a home for the homeless. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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“WE beautify our place so that it doesn’t feel like we are sleeping under a bridge,” said Tanki Seleoane (34).

Seleoane is a homeless man squatting under a bridge near Central Park, Bloemfontein.

Seleoane is one of the three men living under the bridge.

Although they risk being swept away by floods during the rainy season, the men said it is the only place they can call home.

Tucked under a bridge canal in one of the busiest areas in Bloemfontein, the squatters’ creative bedroom has attracted a lot of attention.

Two double beds with thick blankets, a television set, a wall clock, kettle and a bright red telephone are some of the small treasures assembled in the open bedroom.

Seleoane, a Lesotho citizen from Mohale’s Hoek, said he has been squatting under the bridge since last year April.

Seleoane said the items they used to beautify their space are other people’s discarded junk.

He said he started living under the bridge when he came to South Africa last year looking for a job.

“I can’t afford to pay rent and this bridge has become my home,” he said.

“We make it look nice so that we can forget that we are sleeping in the streets,” Seleoane added.

Desperate for their next meal, the men take turns going into the city’s central business district to assist hawkers with selling their merchandise to make ends meet.

Seleoane said they also help to carry goods bought by shoppers to the local taxi rank for a fee.

The other two men sharing the space with Seleoane have gone to look for food in the city.

“We take turns guarding our property, otherwise it gets stolen,” he said.

Seleoane said one of his friends who also lived under the bridge was swept away by floods recently.

“The water swept him right into the concrete pillars.

“We had to take him to hospital after he sustained serious injuries,” said Seleoane.

“Living here is risky, but it is home,” he added.

The well assembled bedroom has also attracted revellers looking for a spot to bunk, said Seleoane.

Wearing a striped blue shirt and scruffy jeans, Seleoane said his clothes were recently stolen, leaving him with only the clothes that he is wearing.

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