WATCH: These are the real reasons people become homeless

2019-07-16 11:04
Chantel Fredericks reads a book at the Haven Shelter on Napier Street in Cape Town. (Screengrab)

Chantel Fredericks reads a book at the Haven Shelter on Napier Street in Cape Town. (Screengrab)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Collins Jonas moved to South Africa in 2017 with a plan to help support his family in Malawi. He was fortunate enough to find a job as a panel beater, but one evening he was robbed of everything he had on him, including his passport.

The 28-year-old lost his job in December and soon his landlord evicted him. "I couldn't afford to pay rent, so I started walking the streets," Jonas said.

He tried asking for help from fellow Malawians in the city, but all doors were shut. "They told me everyone came here alone, there's nothing we can do," he recalled.

"My life was like hell. I was sleeping outside. Sometimes I'd sleep in the bush and sometimes in town on the street," he said.

Jonas' story is a common one, according to the Haven Night Shelter CEO Hassan Khan.

Khan is at the helm of an organisation offering beds at 15 shelters across the city.

He told News24 there are common assumptions about the reasons people are on the street, with poverty and housing shortages being among them. 

However, he said the real causes of homelessness are often far more subtle, and affect people from all spheres of society.

Khan said a single event, such as the breakdown of a relationship, often starts the chain of events.

collins jonas

Collins Jonas poses for a picture at The Haven Shelter on Napier Street. (Picture: Lerato Sejake/News24)

Another client at The Haven, Chantel Fredericks, has been staying at the shelter for three months.

The 37-year-old from Bonteheuwel became homeless after her mother passed away. She arrived at their doorstep in Napier Street after months of battling with drugs and living on the streets with her two children.

"Things became hard and we began to fight," she said of the family situation.

Now Fredericks is undergoing counselling at the shelter and hopes to find a job to support her two daughters, aged five and nine.

"There's a lot of work here. It's helping me with a lot of things, especially trauma," she said.

5 000 homeless across Cape Town

Jonas and Fredericks are among the estimated 5 000 homeless people in the greater Cape Town area. According to statistics released by the Western Cape government in May, 700 of those are living in the central business district.

Jonas is hoping the Department of Social Development can assist him to get an identity document and passport. In the meantime, he is grateful for a safe place to spend his nights.

"At least now I have a roof over my head and can focus on looking for a job," he said.

Jonas hopes to one day have enough money to go home to see his family again.

"They don't know that I'm in this situation. Maybe they think I'm dead because I have no phone to communicate with them," he said.

"I just hope things are going to be right for me again." 

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android here now. Get it for your iPhone here.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    cape town  |  homeless  |  poverty

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.