Abramjee defends 'CEO Sleepout'

2016-07-30 14:42
Yusuf Abramjee (Twitter)

Yusuf Abramjee (Twitter)

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Cape Town - The controversial CEO Sleepout will take place again next year, possibly on Robben Island, in spite of criticism of the fund-raising event, spokesperson Yusuf Abramjee said on Saturday.

"There has been some criticism about the event on social media. People are entitled to their opinions but the reality is that the Sun International #CEOSleepOut2016 is making a real difference," said Abramjee.

The sleepout involves getting heads of companies to pledge money for charity, and in turn they get to sleep on the pavement in the middle of winter to feel what it is like to be homeless.

This year it was held on the Nelson Mandela bridge in Johannesburg on Thursday night, to the chagrin of protesters who were removed by police.

Critics regard the event as "poverty porn" that the homeless themselves are excluded from attending and question whether it is an authentic experience of homelessness.

@Shaeera_k tweeted: "Student protester shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at #CEOSleepout2016. Do you still need us to explain what's wrong with this shit?"

Abramjee said the sleepout was a major success, with millions of rands committed for educational causes and hundreds of homeless people getting help.

"Pledges are in excess of R25 million. Gift of the Givers and Operation Snowball distributed clothing and blankets to hundreds of homeless people yesterday [Friday]," thanks to the sleepout, Abramjee said.

He said the event showed that the country was carrying and added quotes suggesting support by Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and former minister of human settlements Tokyo Sexwale.

According to Abramjee, Sexwale wants it to be held on Robben Island next year on Mandela Day, 18 July.

He added that over 60 schools, 10 universities and colleges and 40 companies took part in the school, student and sympathy sleepouts this year. 

Among these was a gathering of hundreds of people in Laudium, Pretoria, on Friday night.

"We salute the thousands of people who have come out to support... and we will continue to assist where we can."

There were plans to hold it in other parts of the continent.

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  johannesburg ­

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