Cape Town – The Fish Hoek Community Policing Forum (CPF) has come under fire for labelling the homeless as criminals and asking residents not to “feed or support individuals walking through residential areas or those begging at street intersections, outside shopping malls and other public places”.
The organisation believes this creates “a nice place to be” for the homeless.
The CPF wrote: “You may have noticed that there is an increasing number of homeless/street people back on the streets in the Fish Hoek valley.
“Their presence here is driven by the residents who continue to feed them and support them.
“By you doing so, their numbers will continue to grow as they in turn will spread the word that this is ‘a nice place to be’ and this will only lead to an increase in their numbers in the streets of Fish Hoek and the problems associated with this.”
CPF chairperson Andre Blom said: “The homeless people from Strandfontein (site) are walking through every avenue of Fish Hoek. A higher percentage of them are criminals.”
Community Chest board chairperson Lorenzo Davids said the CPF’s statement went against resetting the class divide.
“It’s discouraging that this is out there as a message that discourages public engagement and public sensitivity to the plight of other people. It entrenched a class and culture agenda, and that is unfortunate,” Davids said.
Ladles of Love founder Danny Diliberto said more needed to be done to better co-ordinate the feeding of homeless people.
“Not feeding the homeless is definitely not the solution. I also don’t encourage giving food at traffic lights, it does make it more difficult to give food when people are dispersed.
“I’m working mainly through shelters to create more structured soup kitchens around the City,” Diliberto added.
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez’s spokesperson, Joshua Chigome, said they had been made aware of the statement and would investigate.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said the City’s position has always been to ensure that homeless people were given a “hand up, instead of a handout”.
“The latter often increases the risk of prolonged homelessness. We encourage residents to donate to registered organisations working with street people, instead of direct handouts.
“We support the call being made by the Fish Hoek CPF and we hope that other CPFs and civic associations follow this call to support the City’s Give Dignity campaign.”
In Muizenberg Park, a group of homeless people protested on Saturday, calling on the City to provide them with shelter.
The City said last week it was finalising the closure of the Strandfontein temporary shelter for street people, with the site expected to be empty by Wednesday.
While many who were housed at Strandfontein have opted to return to the streets, the mayoral committee has given the go-ahead for the procurement of prefabricated structures to be placed on vacant City land next to existing shelters where this is a viable option.
The Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) said the homeless coming to Muizenberg Park was “fast-becoming a major health risk to the homeless and the surrounding community”.
In a statement, MID said 40 individuals were currently sleeping in a few tents erected in the park by a community organisation with no access to food, clean water or ablution facilities.
“The park is rapidly being overrun with litter and human faeces due to all public toilets in Muizenberg being locked due to the lockdown,” MID said.
It said the City gave assurances that a safe place in Muizenberg would be erected by May 20, but there still wasn’t an agreement on a location.
Badroodien said the MID was informed the homeless who made their way back to the park were the individuals who opted to leave Strandfontein and the Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department was working on the issue.
By Francesca Villette and Siphokazi Vuso