Concern over parking lot squatters

Homeless people are living in a handful of makeshift shelters in a City-owned parking lot near the Goodwood police station, in Wiener Street, and residents aren’t happy about it.

Goodwood police spokesman, Captain Waynne Theunis, said they had had several complaints from residents about the people living in the flimsy hovels fashioned out of wooden crates, plastic sheeting and scraps of corrugated iron, and they had referred them to the City’s land invasion unit, which regularly cleaned up the area.

“There are about six people living there, but they are not a crime or safety risk.”

A man who did not want to be named but has lived in the area for 60 years said many residents had complained.

“Nobody would stay like that if they had a proper place to stay,” he said. “They often knock on my door asking for food and water. My concern is that there are many new faces popping up and that in a sense is unsafe for us.”

Councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg for Ward 27, which covers Goodwood, Glenwood, Tygerdal and N1 City, said she had not had any complaints about the homeless in the parking lot, although she had driven by there many times and seen them making “themselves comfortable”.

She said she had been present for more than one “intervention” involving City social development, law enforcement, the land invasion unit and the police.

“At one stage, there was a child staying there. The City’s social development unit is not mandated to deal with street children, but an officer went out of his way to get the child to a place of safety,” she said.

Ms Janse van Rensburg said the police also “have a role to play” because they parked in the lot.

“If they see people being relocated and then coming back time and time again they should also intervene,” she said.

She said fieldworkers walked the streets of Goodwood daily trying to offer the homeless help.

“What we have found is that many of these people would rather stay on the street. However, we cannot just give up on them, and fieldworkers build relationships with them so that they can somehow persuade them to make a life for themselves off the street. It’s not easy but they try,” she said.

Marilyn Hans, 32, has been living in one of the hovels with her partner for a year and a half.

“I am originally from Elsies River,” she said. “We have nowhere to go that is why we came to stay here.

“I keep the place clean and I don’t give anybody any problems. I can’t speak for the other people staying here,” she said.