City to do survey on homeless

Close to a 100 residents turned up at the meeting to discuss vagrancy in the area.

The City of Cape Town will do a survey later this year to see how many homeless people are in Goodwood, Parow and surrounds.

Area central Mayco member Siyabulela Mamkeli says the City doesn’t know exactly how many homeless people there are in the northern suburbs, but a 2015 survey put the total homeless population for Cape Town at more than 4 800.

Piles of rotting clothes and food, razor blades, scissors, stolen credit cards and trolleys are some of the items neighbourhood watches say they find when doing clean-ups in Monte Vista, following a spike in vagrancy and homelessness in the area.

This emerged at a public meeting called by the Monte Vista Ratepayers’ Association last week to discuss the issue.

Ward 1 councillor Cheryl Visser said the City’s land-invasion unit had torn down shelters near the Protea Hotel and near the Fort Ikapa Military Base.

Pheneous Mvakwendlu, from the City’s social development directorate, said there was an increase in homeless people around Monte Vista and Goodwood prison.

He urged the public not to put anything of value in their bins because it could be sold for drugs.

The directorate had re-integrated some homeless people by helping them to get IDs and taking them to shelters, he said.

Others had been given jobs through the City’s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), but that work lasted six months after which the homeless returned to the streets.

“We are looking at extending the programme to keep them working for longer,” he said.

Mr Mvakwendlu claimed the existence of a large criminal element among the homeless in Monte Vista had resulted in spike in burglaries.

“Some of them are wanted suspects and residents should report any suspicious people lurking in their neighbourhood to police,” he said.

He urged the public to donate to shelters and charities instead of giving hand-outs directly to the homeless as that only encouraged them to stay on the streets.

There was a large number of homeless people working as informal car guards at Edgemead Shopping Centre, he said.

Monte Vista Ratepayers’ Association secretary Riana de Wet said she had heard many stories from the homeless about having been lured to Cape Town with false promises of employment.

“When they get here that job opportunity turns out to be false, and they end up on the streets,” she said.

She had received a complaint about vagrants living near a Monte Vista pre-school.

“The homeless were throwing beer bottles over the wall into the playground and this is unacceptable because small children are present.”

Wayne Aldridge, from City law enforcement, said it wasn’t a crime to be homeless, but they had noticed more parolees and gangsters among them.

He said children begging at traffic lights could make up to
R1 000 a day.

“Many of those children are on glue, and it is not a crime to stand at the robots as our constitution says we are all entitled to freedom of movement,” he said.