Street people a ‘great concern’

2018-10-30 06:01

The Muizenberg railway bridge is not only known for traffic accidents involving trucks that fail to comply with the height restriction, but street people are making this a new “city” with their structures and families living on the pavements.

In the past month People’s Post wrote about the new measures that the City of Cape Town put in place to make the bridge safer for motorists, since then the number of street people sleeping under the bridge has doubled.

The pavements on both sides of the road are crowded with families occupying the space, making it difficult for pedestrians to walk there.

A local resident complained about the situation and said that the number of people has multiplied to such a degree that they even jostle for the best position on both sides of the road.

With the accident rate of one every month at the bridge, he is concerned that it will only be a matter of time before some of the street people are seriously hurt.

Eddie Andrews, Mayco Member (South) said that the City’s Social Development and Law Enforcement departments consider this to be one of the city’s many hotspots for street people.

“Both departments conduct ongoing operations in this area. The Reintegration Unit of the Social Development Department conducts social outreach operations to help people off the street and into temporary shelter or to be reunited with their families.

“While these services are accepted by some street people in Cape Town, the Reintegration Unit finds the level of success among people frequenting the area in question to be very low. The City cannot force anyone to accept help as homelessness is not a crime,” Andrews says.

Where children are found living on the street with their parents or on their own, the provincial Department of Social Development is called upon to act, as they serve as the custodian of vulnerable children.

“There is a dedicated team on duty in the area every day during the week. The team has not found any children sleeping on the street in this area recently. However, we do find an increase in children begging in the area annually during the lead-up to the festive season, particularly on weekends.

“Furthermore, the Reintegration Unit works closely with the Muizenberg Central Improvement District, which is also linked to the City’s Street People Coordinating Forum. From a law enforcement perspective, officers enforce the provisions of the bylaw relating to streets, public places and the prevention of noise nuisances,” he says.

The bylaw includes issuing fines and removing people from areas where they are either blocking pavements or roadways or have set up structures.

“The problem is that they return as soon as officers move on. People cannot be arrested for bylaw offences unless they are in contempt of court for failure to pay fines. Given that street people do not have a fixed address, they are often untraceable. It is also virtually impossible to secure an arrest warrant because there is no address on which to serve the warrant.

“The City is lobbying the criminal justice system to identify shortcomings in existing legislation which currently renders enforcement ineffective.

“Until such time, our staff will continue conducting operations in this area – specifically to clear the pavement so that pedestrians can move freely,” Andrews says.

Residents are also urged to refrain from donating directly to individuals, but to channel their donations through registered shelters and non-profit organisations instead. V The City calls on the public to assist them by reporting any street people concerns to 021 480 7700

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