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Durban - City manager, S’bu Sithole, has vowed to get to the bottom of an eMdloti resident’s complaint that vagrants were being picked up in Durban and “dumped” on the North Coast town’s beachfront.
The resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said 18 vagrants were left on eMdloti’s beachfront on Wednesday by metro police.
He said he heard a truck backing up at 4.30am.
“I looked outside and saw a metro truck pulling off, as well as another metro car. They had dumped 18 homeless men on the beachfront who all started walking south. I called my security company and the supervisor arrived.”
According to the witness, the Malandela Security supervisor kept the men near the eMdloti entrance, and contacted Durban North SAPS.
“Two police vans arrived at about 5.45am and picked up all 18 of them. I assume they were taken back to Durban. I then called 10111 and reported the incident. They contacted metro, who denied knowing anything.”
He queried whether metro was “cleaning up the streets” while the 11th world congress of the Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine Conference was in Durban.
A Malandela Security member confirmed the incident, adding the vagrants said they had been picked up by metro police in Durban.
No explanation was given as to why.
The Daily News spoke to vagrants near the Durban beachfront who said metro police often collected them at about 4am or 5am and dropped them off at outlying areas.
Bongani Mngcwabe, who works as a part-time car guard, said he had witnessed the metro van patrolling that morning, collecting vagrants.
“They take them to KwaMashu, uMlazi and Verulam. They also take them to eMdloti,” he said.
A 16-year-old living on the beachfront said he had not witnessed any pick-ups that morning, but metro police were often on site in the early mornings, chasing vagrants away. He said he had been removed four times by metro police.
“We have no money or transport and have to walk back to Durban,” he said.
The SAPS said they could not comment because metro police were attending to the matter. A police source confirmed the men were taken from eMdloti back to Durban.
“We had to move them as the residents were concerned. There were no charges and we’re not sure why they were taken there,” the source said.
Sithole said he was not aware of the incident.
“I will be investigating what happened, to find out who did this and the appropriate steps will be taken,” he said.
“Regardless of the reason, there is no policy saying we can take people from the CBD or anywhere in the city and drop them off elsewhere.”
DA councillor, Geoff Pullan, described the practice as “appalling”, although he praised SAPS members for their quick response.
“Taking people from one place and dropping them off somewhere else, especially when they have no means to get back, is just anti-social behaviour,” he said.
Metro police spokesman, Eugene Msomi, did not respond to e-mails or smses.