Homeless horrors

2017-04-04 06:03

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A petition with more than a thousand signatures calls on the City of Cape Town to crack down on antisocial behaviour in Muizenberg.

The petition follows a People’s Post article in which JP Smith, Mayco member for safety, security and social services, said only five complaints about homelessness in Muizenberg had been recorded by the City since December (“Homelessness no day at the beach”, 14 February).

Members of the Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative (MCSI), which started the petition, say this does not reflect the “levels of concern that Muizenberg is ­experiencing”.

“We are uncertain whether the low number is accounted for by faulty reporting or because people are unsure where to address their complaints, but either way we decided to take on the challenge of setting the record straight,” they say in the petition.

They say this doesn’t match the “levels of distress” residents have, and that the number of vagrants and day strollers is impacting on personal safety, hygiene, business and tourism.

They are calling on the City to look after council-owned land and buildings in Muizenberg, like the Battle of Muizenberg site and the Atlantic Road electricity department, urgently help Muizenberg with key social development solutions and step up Law Enforcement efforts.

“The situation gives criminals an ideal cover to step up their operations in the area. Much of this is being allowed on, or outside, council property,” the petition reads.

MCSI chairperson Trevor Snyders says there is a perception of a growing number of criminals living amongst the long-term homeless people and that many of the bylaws are not being enforced, such as drinking and urinating in public and littering.

“It needs to be clear that we recognise that amongst the people on the street are the true homeless who need significant support to support their basic human rights and these are lacking. They have no access to toilet and ablution facilities, nowhere to wash their clothes or store their personal belongings and have limited protection sleeping on the streets at night. Many have addictions and need support but these are not available. Shelters are overflowing and have no space for those needing shelter.”

“There are a significant number of economic vagrants amongst the homeless. Typically, these tend to be informal car guards (up to 80 have been counted in Muizenberg alone), some of whom have homes in the surrounding areas but choose to be close to their ‘place of work’ or involved in illegal activities,” says Snyders.

The petition, which received 1400 signatures, has already been submitted to the City.

Despite having interventions in place, the City cannot force homeless people to accept the services offered to them, explains Eddie Andrews, Mayco member (South).

“The City has a dedicated reintegration unit which offers social services to street people, including referral to shelters, access to expanded public works programmes job opportunities, assistance with securing IDs and social grants, and social assistance for reunification with their family,” he says.

The social development and early childhood development department’s street people unit has an agreement with the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID), Andrews says, and MID deals with all issues regarding the local homeless.

“The City will be called to assist with cases that they are struggling with. The City also assists in assessing cases for social support. Operations are conducted regularly in Atlantic Road and in Muizenberg Park to address any bylaw contraventions.

“Recently an operation was also held at the Battle of Muizenberg site and a number of trespassers were arrested and charged. In addition, the electricity depot is fully secured but street people do sometimes loiter nearby.”

Law Enforcement officers also enforce the law during patrols if the contravention occurs in their presence, says Andrews.

“They will also deal with any bylaw contraventions that are brought to their attention via complaints from the public. However, just like any other resident they also enjoy freedom of movement and officers cannot prevent people from moving around in an area.”


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