Homelessness no day at the beach

2017-02-14 06:01

Muizenberg residents have lambasted the Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) and the City of Cape Town for what they think is a failure in dealing with homelessness.

In a letter and social media posts circulated by community organisations, residents have taken MID and the City to task after a street person was seen exposing himself and street people were reported to be engaging in sexual activity. Complaints of street people blocking residents’ entrances were also raised.

The letter asked why MID was not able to move these street people and alleged the City had a “regulation preventing the harassment of street people”. It claimed the MID’s spending on security showed “little value for money” in addressing homelessness.

The letter also accused the City of regarding street people higher than ratepayers.

“The City is criticised from all quarters on an ongoing basis – some complaining that we are too harsh in dealing with antisocial behaviour and others complaining that we do too little. It’s a matter of perception and, frankly, everyone is entitled to their opinion,” responds JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security and social services.

Smith adds there is no policy “preventing the harassment of street people”.

“We do, however, expect residents to treat each other with respect, courtesy and dignity – irrespective of their circumstances. The City is in the unenviable position of trying to balance the rights of street people with the rights of the general population. Homelessness is a global phenomenon that very few countries have managed to adequately address,” he says.

“Street people are entitled to freedom of movement. Also, it is not illegal to be homeless. However, like everyone else, street people are expected to abide by the laws of the country and the bylaws of the City.

“The law enforcement department conducts regular patrols in identified hotspot areas. Staff act on bylaw contraventions and will attend to any illegally erected structures, fires in public places and antisocial behaviour. That being said, due to shortcomings in national legislation, law enforcement as it relates to street people is ineffective in that we cannot issue fines or arrest them to appear in court.”

Five complaints in two monthsThe City’s social development department has only received five complaints in Muizenberg since December as most complaints go directly to the MID, Smith explains. The department has an agreement with the MID to help in cases when requested.

Since 2013, the MID has helped about 40 homeless people to get into shelters or be reunited with their families, says MID chairperson Marion Wagner. MID also provides social work services at the Muizenberg clinic every Thursday morning.

“We have prevented many others from becoming homeless residents of Muizenberg through referral to shelters as soon as they arrived in the area,” she says.

However, there are various complexities in addressing homelessness, she says.

The MID cannot enforce bylaw infringements, Wagner explains.

In addition, bed space in shelters is “extremely limited”, she says.

“One can also not force an individual to move off the streets nor infringe their constitutional rights,” she adds.

Some of the homeless people are car guards who no longer go home at night but sleep in the area due to the increased economic opportunities on the beachfront, Wagner points out.

“The MID has also been active in encouraging community members to play an active role in being part of the solution by logging complaints to put pressure on the responsible departments and to advocate responsible giving where we encourage everyone to please give a hand-up and not a hand-out.”

V Contact the City’s toll-free number on 0800 872 201 to ask how to help street people or to complaint about street people.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
ADVERTORIAL
Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

/News
 

5 top leg exercises for men

Here’s our selection of the five best leg exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

 
 

You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content this holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
How to open a beer bottle without an opener
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.