By Rukaya Mosavel
Choosing to live on the streets is a desperate attempt at survival and is not a decision made easy. These were the pained words of homeless people who are grappling with the authority’s decision to fine those living on the streets. The City of Cape Town have defended their action and believe an enforcement of the by-laws will curb crime and other social ills. It says it is implementing a number of social development initiatives that will be of benefit to homeless people, who consciously seek out support.
This position has raised concerns over whether the homeless are being marginalised and not treated with dignity by authorities.
VOC news took to the streets of Woodstock speak to homeless people.
Many people that we had spoken to said that they disagree with the City’s decision to fine the homeless.
“Fining the homeless people is not the solution. Homelessness is a part of society that is not going away. So we need to find solutions, we need to think out of the box,” said Danny Diliberto, founder of NGO Ladels of Love.
Ladels of Love is an organisation that aims at feeding and providing aid schemes for those who are underprivileged and homeless.
“It’s a sad thing, because it makes you wonder. Like how do people reach out to the homeless? It is a big concern. Because they are human beings,” said Ansley Cooper, a member of the public.
“We can make a plan to help them. It’s not good the way they are living in the street. It’s very horrible,” said Anwar Sedick.
“You think about the irresponsibility of leaders. These people should not be on the streets. And it’s not their choice. Nobody wants to be on the street, especially when it’s winter like this. The government must help them but instead, they want money from them. That is impossible,” commented another.
Most community members agreed that homelessness is an issue and that better action needs to be taken. To them, fining the homeless was not a plausible solution to the problem.
“Our government have to try their best. They are trying their best but must to put more effort to feed those in the street and give them shelter,” said Fahmie Davids.
“Big companies can just organise something for the people who are living outside. And organise food and maybe blankets and shelters if they can,” said Raheema Essack.
“They have to understand (the City) that this is not a choice. I think housing must be implemented. It has to be implemented,” said Maureen Johnstone.
Speaking to those directly affected, the common concern was the isolation and dehumanisation that they feel. The attitude of the public seemed to be indifferent and this made them feel even more isolated and devastated.
“We are getting cold, we have nothing. To sleep outside is not best. No one understands,” said Keenan Goliath.
“Spend ten minutes with somebody on the street and you will see they’re actually not that bad,” added Michael Smith.
“Everybody just seems to want to push the ones that don’t have to the side. The problem is not going to go away. We’re all human beings. God sees every single one of us. All we just wanna have is to feel love, to have food and to have a roof over our heads. I’m a human being. When you walk past the next person, you still want to feel like you’re a human being,” cried a homeless man.