Having a home is not a prerequisite to vote in South Africa as it is a constitutional right.
However, with days to the local government elections many homeless people say they won’t cast their vote because it will mean they are accepting the appalling conditions in which they live.
Shockingly, some say they are registered to vote using wrong street addresses as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) doesn’t verify addresses.
The Sunday Independent went to members of the vagrant community living on the peripheries of society in the affluent suburbs along Sandton Drive in Sandton.
Most say to vote will be to endorse the horrendous conditions in which they are living. They complain that the government does not care about them and even political parties didn’t visit them when campaigning.
Sizwe Majola, 26, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, says voting is a no-no.
“For us to go and vote, it will mean we are saying it’s okay for us to live in the streets with no jobs in the cold. And which party must we vote for as all these political parties pass us every day and don’t come and talk to us.
“It shows how useless we are in South Africa. They don’t even want our votes. Most of the leaders stay in this suburb and we know where they stay but don’t come talk to us.”
Victor Mchunu, 46, says even when he’s begging at the robots, the politicians don’t greet him or offer any food. They drive by waving their party flags. Asked how the wealthy residents treat them, Mchunu says at first they were being harassed by the metro cops and private security companies because of complaints.
The police and security guards would come and destroy their plastic shacks which they would rebuild soon afterwards. But now they are living happily side-by-side with the wealthy as they have been asked to help combat crime in the suburb and in return are given food and other goodies.
When asked if any of them registered to vote and which address they gave, they say that a few are registered. They gave the street address closest to the registration station.
One of those who registered, Gideon says: “I used 182 Benmore Drive to register but I don’t even stay close to there and no one went to check if there is such an address.”
Voters are required to provide their physical address by the Constitutional Court ruling that compelled the IEC to ensure voters fall within the districts they are registered.
Voters who don’t have formal residential addresses must provide a landmark close to where they stay to allow election officials to confirm they are registering in the correct voting district.
One of the biggest challenges the homeless face is that they do not have ID documents. Some left their areas of birth before they applied for IDs and cannot afford to return as required by Home Affairs regulations that stipulate they must provide documents showing where they were born and where they attended school.
The homeless, who don’t have ID documents, have appealed to the government and political parties to assist them as they cannot find work or apply for RDP houses, let alone vote.
“If we had IDs, we would not be living like this. We ask the government and other political parties like the EFF to help us get IDs,” says Patson Muzi Sigwela, who has been on the street for 10 years and is not sure of his age. He says he might be 42.
Reporting by[Source: Sunday Independent]