Homeless killings: Where are the statements and hashtags?

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The belongings of one of the people believed to have been murdered by a 'serial killer' are seen in Magnolia Park, Pretoria. (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
The belongings of one of the people believed to have been murdered by a 'serial killer' are seen in Magnolia Park, Pretoria. (Sandile Ndlovu, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

It has taken the murder of five homeless men to bring the plight of the forgotten into focus, yet our leaders and political parties have still not acted decisively or spoken out loudly about society's most vulnerable.

Five bodies have been found since the beginning of June. All the victims were found murdered in different parts of Muckleneuk, a suburb in Tshwane. 

Police have confirmed the five were homeless middle-aged males. They were all killed at night, in a similar manner. 

Given the geographic location of the murders, the shared similarities of the victims, time frame and method of killing, it would appear that this is the work of a serial killer.

Police have stayed away from using this term, instead, calling the suspect the "nocturnal prowler".

But this is not about who the killer may be, but rather about how we, as a society, reacted to the senseless killings of the most vulnerable, the most downtrodden, those in society who have clearly been forgotten. 

Yes, police have established a high-level task team who are actively working on taking down the killer, but while police are at work, our leaders and political parties have largely been silent. 

Perhaps they were very busy sourcing garments for the State of the Nation Address - it's a fancy affair, there is even a red carpet.

Battle for survival

There is, however, no red carpet for the homeless.

At best, they have a tree to sleep under and during the day, a megalithic battle ensues, a battle for survival, regular degradation and an existential crisis as society simply ignores their existence. 

READ: 'Homeless killings should be treated as work of a serial killer', says former profiler

On Wednesday afternoon, several NGOs which work intimately with the homeless in Tshwane held a vigil which was attended by members of the clergy, a handful of homeless men, one City of Tshwane official and the Tshwane member of the mayoral committee for community and social development services, Sakkie du Plooy.

Zero support

There was practically zero support from the rest of the community.

We have yet to see any statements of support, outrage or concern from the major political parties in the country, the Presidency, national ministries or provincial departments.

Perhaps it's because murder is just so prevalent in our country that we have become desensitised and a measly five murders is hardly enough to conjure up the energy to act sympathetically or express sadness.

Or, it is because the victims happen to be homeless, a part of society that when not forgotten, is only recognised as the noncontributing menaces of society who dig through your dustbins and stand in the middle of the roads begging.

But these are not their identifiers: These are people who have had it hard, many led to the streets because of their socioeconomic hardships, nonexistent support systems, mental illnesses, abandonment and addiction. 

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

They are like any other people: They have hopes, dreams and fears. They love and they hurt like everyone else. 

We need to be angered and hurt that the most vulnerable are being targeted. 

We must to be equally outraged at the demise of five men, as when a woman or man from the middle class (whose relatives have access to police and the media) or when any farmer or farmworker is killed. 

Where are the hashtags or the special profile photos?

We have to do more to see the homeless. They should not be invisible - in life or death - any longer. Their lives depend on it.

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