‘Losing battle’ to move homeless

2015-06-30 06:00
One of the homeless people folds her blankets to prepare for the start of her day.


One of the homeless people folds her blankets to prepare for the start of her day. PHOTO: TIYESE jERANJI

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Chichester Road in Claremont is a hotspot where homeless people like to settle. This is not going down well with the residents in the area because of the mess they are creating.

About nine streetpeople use the area as their home. With winter in full swing they light fires to keep warm and cook. They have to relieve themselves on the flower bed nearby.

Residents are complaining about them settling there, the graffiti on the walls and using the flower bed as it’s creating a terrible stench and a difficult job for the gardeners.

One of the residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says the fight to get the homeless out of the area seems to be fruitless.

“It’s so terrible here. We maintain the flowers on our own and we find human waste there. They pee on the flowers and they light up fires. It’s so uncomfortable and dangerous.

“It looks like we are fighting a losing battle because these people seem like they will never move,” she says.

She adds that their wish is to have the area fenced off, as has been done in other areas.

“It’s a small gap and it can be fenced. We want to clean the walls but we can’t do that as long as the people are still there. It’s not nice to look at and the mess. . . it’s just too much. Something has to be done immediately,” she adds.

There are allegations that some of the streetpeople who settle there ran away from their communities because of gang fighting.

Visiting the area People’s Post found four street people there. They spoke openly and vowed to never return home due to the gang violence.

One of them, Taswell Detoit (26), was staying in Hanover Park and says he will never go back home.

“In my home area I have been robbed at gun point several times. Not so long ago when I went home, at around 20:00, a group of men came to me. They asked for money and I told them I didn’t have. They took out their guns, pointed at me and they took everything I had. From that day I told myself I would never go back there. I’m better off on the streets than to die by the hands of gangs,” says Detoit.

Edgar Demas (34), also from Hanover Park, says it’s not easy being on the street, but it’s safer.

“We are not part of any gangs but those people don’t care. Yes, we have people who were gangsters here and they don’t want to go home. We stay here because it’s much safer. It’s not easy with the rain but we know we won’t be robbed or killed by the gangsters,” says Demas.

They say they want to go to a shelter and stay there but the problem is they don’t have the money to pay every month.

“These shelters are not for free. We don’t have money to pay. Some of them cost R700 a month and where do we get that kind of money? We will continue to be on the streets and with the little money that we get we buy food for ourselves,” adds Demas.

Ward councillor Matthew Kempthrone says he is aware of the homeless in the area.

“We are working with law enforcement but the problem of homelessness is spiking. With the army being sent to Manenberg we are seeing a lot of people on our streets. Bessert Close is no exception. Last week I met with the concerned people to find long-term solutions to the problem.

“However, to fight this problem we are urging people to give responsibly. Don’t give money, clothes or food directly to the homeless. Give to the U-turn NGO as they are doing a wonderful job in assisting with the homeless,” he says.

Kempthrone urges resident to report immediately if they see homeless people lightning fires close to the road.
“Please call 107 immediately so that law enforcement can come and help out. The bylaw doesn’t allow that so law enforcement are the people that can deal with it immediately,” he says.

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