by a Concerned Resident…The end of lock down episode 1 did not end smoothly for many people in the city of Joburg with claims that people have occupied land illegally in the South of Joburg in Lawley. Sadly this is happening when we are facing a serious life threatening virus. The City of Joburg yesterday demolished houses of people who don’t qualify for a bond or even an Rdp house. It broke my heart to witness people’s houses destroyed when the country is in lock down and the City of Joburg workers are expected to be staying at home, maintaining social distance. The big question is how can we defeat the pandemic when many people are in the streets with their houses demolished and where will all these people go?
Since the enforcement of lockdown has begun things have been very difficult especially when it comes to maintaining social distance. It’s been difficult for us to comply with at home because we are living in a RDP house which is one room and we are a family of 7 including my mother ,2 sisters, 3 children and myself. We are very concerned because we can’t keep one meter apart as we the house is too small for all of us. During cold weather it is like we are breathing the same air. We are not sure if coronavirus is going to spare us in case one of us gets infected.
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?
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.