Homeless killings: City of Tshwane not doing enough after string of murders, says NGO

2019-06-20 20:56
A homeless man sitting on the grass in Magnolia Park, Tshwane, where two bodies were found on June 8 and 9. (Alex Mitchley)

A homeless man sitting on the grass in Magnolia Park, Tshwane, where two bodies were found on June 8 and 9. (Alex Mitchley)

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An NGO in Tshwane, which deals with the plight of homeless people, has accused officials of not taking the recent string of murders of vagrants seriously enough.

Wayne Renkin from the Tshwane Leadership Foundation told News24 on Thursday that the City of Tshwane had not taken immediate action following the murders of five homeless men since the beginning of June.

Renkin said the City only called a meeting after the fifth and most recent murder, when the body of a homeless man was found at a bus stop about 400m from Unisa's Muckleneuk campus on Wednesday morning.

ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE | Homeless killings: Night crawler a balaclava-wearing lone wolf

He added that City officials had asked the NGOs at the meeting what it could do for the homeless, without providing financial support, in the wake of the murders.

"City officials are not taking this seriously and there is no action. If they took it seriously there would be action," Renkin said. "Why only call a meeting after five people died?"

The Tshwane member of the mayoral committee for community and social development services, Sakkie du Plooy who was not present at the meeting, told News24 during a telephonic interview that while he understood Renkin's frustrations, the City had had meetings to try and solve issues surrounding homelessness.

Du Plooy said there have been several engagements before the murders started and the meeting on Thursday was an emergency one because of the killings.

READ: Homeless killings: Task team hits the ground running in search for 'nocturnal prowler'

homeless killings, muckleneuk

In a statement by the City on Thursday, Du Plooy said discussions had been held on Wednesday with homeless people around the possibility of developing properties in the city into transit centres for them. 

"So far, the City has, through the directive of Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa, identified two properties that are likely to serve as transit centres."

"While we acknowledge that there is still a lot that needs to be done to address the plight of the homeless, the City has made significant strides with various initiatives that aim to improve the situation.

"For instance, the homeless policy, which has been drafted after intensive public participation with stakeholders such as the Tshwane Homeless Forum, is in the final stages of approval and should provide a clear path on how to address this issue going forward."

Du Plooy added that the City had also set aside a budget of R5m to upgrade and develop more shelters.

Tshwane shelters

Renkin said while there were between 6 000 to 10 000 homeless people on the streets of Tshwane, there was only one City owned shelter and two privately owned ones, which all accommodate around 1 100 people.

He added that there was also a shelter in Salvokop, a suburb near Pretoria central, that had been standing empty for a number of years.

Vigil

The Tshwane Leadership Foundation held a vigil on Thursday afternoon for the five men who were killed by an unknown suspect whom the police have dubbed the Nocturnal Prowler.

The vigil was attended by a number of clergy and residents, where blankets and food were also handed out to several homeless people.

Five bodies found since June

Since the start of June, the bodies of five homeless men have been discovered in different parts of Muckleneuk in Tshwane.

The first body was found almost three weeks ago in a veld near the Mears Park train station. Two more were found in Magnolia Park on June 8 and 9 and a fourth was found on a pavement on the corner of Justice Mohammed and Troye streets on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Homeless killings - Fifth body found in Tshwane, police task team deployed

Police have also confirmed that the five were homeless middle-aged males. They were all killed at night.

News24 also understands the victims were either stabbed, suffered blunt force trauma from a heavy object or injuries inflicted in both manners. However, post-mortems conducted by the task team will conclusively identify the cause of death in each case.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  murder
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