Winter worries

Winter readiness plans have been rolled out in Goodwood and Parow.
Goodwood and Parow have put winter readiness plans in place as winter’s icy grip takes hold of especially the homeless in the city.

Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg said with winter upon us, the harsh realities of living and surviving on the streets could not be wished away.

“The City of Cape Town’s social development and early childhood development department launches its winter readiness programme every year to help qualifying shelters with temporary mattress space, groceries, toiletries and bedding,” she said.

Ms Janse van Rensburg said in the Goodwood area, the Elim Night Shelter in Elsies River was one of the 16 shelters which were part of the winter readiness programme.

“The street people in the Goodwood area range from those who are truly very vulnerable and who might be willing to accept voluntary services offered by the City, to those who choose to remain on the streets and fend for themselves,” she said.

She added she supported the City’s Street People Programme which aimed to reduce the number of people living on the streets. 

“With that in mind, I remind all of our residents who care about street people to support the City’s initiatives by giving responsibly. We need to facilitate the restoring of a street person’s dignity – this can only happen if a street person is willing to accept responsibility for their behaviour and begin to see meaning in wanting to get off the streets,” she said.

If street people know they will be on the receiving end of food, clothing and warm bedding from good-hearted residents, they might be less inclined to accept the services offered by the City. Rather support shelters and other organisations who have structured programmes to assist street people,” Ms Janse van Rensburg said.

She said the sad reality is that despite the efforts by the City and its winter readiness partners, not all street people are keen to be helped.

“The consequences of their street living impacts residents and the environment and one of these consequences is indeed the storing of belongings in drains. The drains in Goodwood were cleaned but if any given drain seems blocked due to clothing and other things dumped/ stored in it, residents should log a service delivery request to have it cleaned. Yes, the City cleans but the culprits continue their mischief and anti-social behaviour,” she said.

Faizel Petersen, chairman of the Goodwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, said he has not received any major complaints about flooding in the area. 

“We have advised the ratepayers that the City only does annual winter readiness clean-ups, and shared the relevant City of Cape Town information with them on how to prepare and prevent flooding,” he said.

Mr Petersen said the homeless congregate in front of store fronts along Voortrekker Road and the side roads. 

“The public are more sympathetic toward the homeless during winter, which then attracts more homeless people to the area. With it getting dark earlier, residents need to log calls advising the City of street lights that are out of order and overgrown trees that obstruct the street lighting, as criminal elements take advantage of this to rob people walking or jogging in the area,” he said.

Ward 26 councillor Franchesca Walker said she hosts regular clean-ups in the area to prevent flooding during the winter months. “We hosted clean-up operations at President High School; Milton and  Giel Basson roads; along Wiener Street in Goodwood, opposite the police station and along Station Road and Duncan Street in Parow. We prioritised those areas last week due to vagrants dumping dirt in the area,” she said.

Ms Walker said there is an increase in vagrants throughout the ward. “We have a high vagrant population within Ward 26. It is particularly bad in Parow at the moment. I do regular site visits where I  engage the new faces among the homeless,” she said. 

Residents who want to report or enquire about street people and the City’s programmes, can use the toll-free number 0800 872 201.