Ransey Diergaardt, 31, used to “skarrel” in the streets of Goodwood in search of his next fix and meal.
Last week, he decided to seek help and is now staying at the Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River.
Mr Diergaardt said that after his mom sold her house in Ruyterwacht, four years ago, he started living on the streets of Goodwood.
“I started hanging out with the wrong people, gangsters, and I made destructive life choices,” he said.
Tuesday October 10 marked World Homeless Day, and Sihle Ngobese, spokesman for Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, said the department had allocated R15.7 million to 64 NGOs across the city to help street people.
“This funding also reaches a growing network of 23 shelters for homeless people. These shelters provide 1 391 bed spaces and have a responsibility to promote the delivery of safe, accountable and cost-effective services for homeless people,” he said.
A soft spoken, Mr Diergaardt built himself a “hokkie” in Spencer Street, in Goodwood near Shoprite, where he stayed with a number of people before opting to go to the shelter.
“I stayed there for a year, and I would ‘loaf’ money from people along Voortrekker Road to survive,” he said.
His life on the streets was fraught with drug abuse, violence and gang intimidation.
“At night, criminal elements would harass us by either threatening to kill us if we did not hand over whatever valuables we had or steal from us. I was beaten up twice; luckily I did not end up in hospital,” he said.
He said drugs were freely available on the streets of Goodwood and Parow. “I would buy mandrax, which comes wrapped in foil, for R16 in Elsies River. In Parow, I was able to get it for R20. I also used tik regularly,” he said.
Mr Diergaardt said he had turned to the Elim Night Shelter after his drug abuse spiralled out of control.
“The drugging became too much for me, and my mother, who lives in an old age home in Observatory, said I should seek help,” he said.
Mr Diergaardt said he had started feeling better since arriving at the shelter.
“I am taking it one step at a time. I thank God that I came out of that situation in one piece. It’s a great feeling to be sober, and I have been since I arrived,” he said.
He urged youth in a similar situation to “hang in there”.
“There are good people out there who can help you. I believe God is the only one who can save us,” he said.
Mr Ngobese said the largest numbers of homeless people were found in the greater Cape Town area.
“According to the latest Street People Survey, there are an estimated 4 862 people living and sleeping on the streets. Of this number, an estimated 700 live in the CBD. We also help reunite street people with their families and communities and have 15 specialist families social workers and two social work supervisors on board to make this happen,” he said.
To donate to shelter call the Department of Social Development’s hotline on 0800 220 250 or the Elim Night Shelter on 021 5912824