‘Don’t give money’

2017-09-07 14:11
Vagrants who camp on Hesom Street outside Jonathan’s Superspar.

Vagrants who camp on Hesom Street outside Jonathan’s Superspar. (Ian Carbutt)

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Family violence, parental alcohol abuse and poverty have been quoted as the main motivating factors for leaving home, for children and young adults.

In Pietermaritzburg, many young people say they had no choice but to leave home to seek out life on the street.

Some beg at street corners, traffic lights, intersections and along the street.

In recent months, the influx of the homeless in the city centre has increased, jeopardising businesses and creating fear among residents.

On Monday night, a brawl between vagrants at the corner of Jabu Ndlovu Street and Chief Albert Luthuli Street resulted in one person being stabbed and killed.

Police confirmed the incident and said they are investigating a charge of murder.

A sociology lecturer at UKZN, Malcolm Draper, said homelessness was a universal problem.

“It’s a movement away from difficult situations to try and find a livelihood. Most of them are running away from disfunctional families and violence.”

Draper said in other cases young people leave home because of the size of their family, where they feel claustrophobic and are unable to cope.

“They go out and look for food and in the process expose themselves to the world of alcohol, drugs and crime.”

He added that urban areas have certain areas where the homeless can beg and find shelter.

“They are able to make money and get food in the city centre. The influx in the city is as a result of trying to make a living.”

Youth for Christ community co-ordinator, Simphiwe Sithole, said the influx of homeless people in the CBD was as a result of drug addiction.

“The difficulty is that this issue is bedevilled by other social ills. When you deal with the homeless you are going to find drug dealers, people who are on drugs, people begging with children and prostitutes.”

Sithole said a more comprehensive plan to get them off the street was needed, adding that a start would be to find a site for a rehabilitation centre.

“When we are dealing with whoonga addicts we need a rehabilitation centre in the city. The question is how do we deal with those who are abusing substances, be it alcohol or drugs, when the city doesn’t have a rehabilitation facility?” he asked.

Sithole said most of the addicts are battling with addiction and they have nowhere to turn.

He added that devising a strategy to help get the homeless off the streets should not be around “helping a crowd” as it will not help to curb the situation.

“To get rid of the problem we need to deal with individuals. We need a programme that will integrate these individuals back into their communities and their families.”

Sithole who has been with Youth for Christ for 10 years, said the homeless cite many reasons for leaving home.

“Some of them leave home because they are being abused. Others because of the crimes they committed in their respective communities and they ran away. For others town is a place where they can easily make money to feed their addictions.”

He strongly objected to residents giving the homeless food or money.

“Do not give them money, rather invest in their development. If they get handouts they get comfortable on the street and don’t see a reason to go home.”

This week, Msunduzi mayor Themba Njilo said the municipality would establish a temporary rehabilitation camp at Sevontein Prison.

Njilo was delivering a detailed report on council’s five-year plan for the city.

“The municipality has approached the Correctional Services Department with regards to the space that will be used around the prison,” Njilo said.

He added that they had attempted to send five people to the Port Shepstone rehabilitation facility, but it was full.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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