Fri, Jun 5, 2020

Cape Town’s Unfriendly Streets to the Homeless People

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By Simon Vilakazi

The triple challenges (homelessness, unemployment & poverty) faced by Cape Town poor people put them in a dire situation. This has become so because Cape Town City Council (CCC) is adding more stress into problems the poor people face. In early July 2019, journalists reported that the CCC is fining homeless people with fines of up to R1,500.00 for sleeping on the streets. The Cape Town City Mayor, Dan Plato justified this and explained that the fines amount is set by the Department of Justice. Whatever, the justification of the fines, is this the best solution for dealing with the triple challenges homeless people face in Cape Town? The elected government officials, be they on local, provincial or national level are not protecting the poor people who find themselves in dire situations.

Cape Town’s homeless people to be fined for sleeping on the streets.

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By Simon Vilakazi

The City of Cape Town announced that homeless people will be fined for sleeping on the streets. This is because the city officials have been getting complaints of public nuisance from business owners who complained that homeless people relieve themselves on the streets near stores and private properties. To deal with this “problem” the city is imposing fines that may be as high as R1,500.00 or more to homeless people who find themselves having to sleep on the streets. This is however controversial. How can a homeless person pay a fine if the reason for sleeping on the street is not having money to pay rent? The City of Cape Town is not explaining what they are doing to help the homeless people. The numbers are increasing but the city’ budget and plans are silent on this challenge. Who is going to help the poor and homeless if their public officials are fining them for being poor?

PACSA launches the Youth Street Survivors (YSS) program

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The Pietermaritzburg Agency Community Social Action (PACSA), working within uMgungundlovu Municipality has launched its new Youth programme, called the Youth Street Survivors program.

The launch event was held on the 20th of June 2019, at the Mandela Park in the east of the Pietermaritzburg CBD. “I am happy with this level of attendance .The main intention is not to have the initiative only to be the initiative of June month, but everything we will be doing in all activities we must be able to say next year this time, here is a street survivor who has been able to make it to the mainstream of society and various spaces”, said Nqabakazi Mathe the PACSA Director YSS launch.

PACSA created a safe space where the youth living on the street can meet and share the ideas on problems facing them. The organisation has dedicated their efforts towards the information dissemination among the youth, towards the creation of platforms for networking.

“Nothing about us without us”, during the launch the streets survivors shared their stories, citing their daily struggles and their wishes for the future. “We are misunderstood, not all of us are pick-pocketing around the streets, and some of us are earning a living by helping carry groceries to the taxi ranks, wash cars, and fetch water for the taxi drivers. In the streets we are the victims of brutal violence if someone lost anything they come beat us up, without any clarity of whether was it me or whoever, we bear the blame that we are often not responsible for. Sometimes they burn our blankets” Nhlakanipho the YSS sharing his story at the launch. Some of them were looking for ways to stop using drugs, to which they are now addicted to.

(YSS playing soccer and netball with members of PACSA’s community partners/groups)

During the launch soccer, netball, teambuilding and board games were played by the community representatives, together with the YSS; the aim was to create mutual beneficial relations amongst the community and the youth street survivors. The YSS appreciated the initiative, to be able to get the rare opportunity to just have fun. They expressed that they were happy to take part in all the activities of the day. At the end of the launch, they were given clothes, blankets that had been donated by various organizations, businesses, individuals and by the Department of Sport and recreation.

PACSA have highlighted that these young people are a manifestation of the socio-economic problems that they experienced together with their families in the communities that has led to their marginalization. They are defenseless victims of brutal violence, sexual exploitation and sex tourism, abject neglect, chemical addiction, human trafficking and human rights violations. PACSA believes that urgent interventions are needed to reintegrate them with their communities and families.

Youth in the streets face a systematic discrimination and are at higher risk of being harmed and are denied a voice. Advocacy is at the hearts of our mission to build a world that protects and respects the youth who are at risk. We seek to journey with them, so that they may be able to advocate for themselves and to make sure they are listened to.


Attendees of the YSS launch

Donated blankets

Mt Frere Culture Clash

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This was a tribal dance in the community of Ntsizwa in Mt Frere in December 2018 where there was a problem , the other village protested against it saying it is disturbing them and making a lot of noise .This was normaly done every year as their way of celebrating .The problem is that they cant stop it since is part of their tradition .