Cape Town - Homeless people in Sea Point have slated DA Ward 54 councillor Shayne Ramsay for her controversial utterances on social media in which she labelled them “criminals who are in and out of overcrowded prisons, mentally retarded or social outcasts”.
Activists have described Ramsay’s comments as racist and aimed at prejudicing vulnerable black South Africans who had nowhere else to go.
In her post, Ramsay said “vagrants are also people”, placing a condition on tolerating them in Sea Point and stating that “they would have to behave in a manner which is acceptable to other residents”.
Ramsay also called on her followers to stop giving to “beggars, street people and car guards” - a move she claimed would force them “to move elsewhere”.
She announced a planned march “against grime” scheduled for December 6.
The post was later removed following a backlash on social media, with some calling for her suspension pending an investigation.
Ramsay apologised for her comments and announced that the march was cancelled.
The Nehemiah Call Initiative for homeless people around the CBD, headed by former CCID employee Dean Ramjoomia, said on Monday Ramsay’s comments represented the anti-poor strategy where homeless people were seen as a nuisance.
Ramjoomia said Ramsay’s statements were a direct attack on the poorest of the poor, with the aim of driving them out of the areas classified as economically sensitive.
“This can no longer be seen as an emotional outburst; it's a racist attack with the aim of prejudicing homeless people. These people come from the poorer areas and are not where they are by choice,” he said.
He said his organisation will be filing a complaint with the South African Rights Commission against Ramsay for a human rights violation.
Chriswin Jansen, 26, who has been living on Sea Point streets for more than 10 years, said he felt insulted and offended by Ramsay’s comments.
“I've been staying for a very long time. My mother lived under similar circumstances. We do not stay in the streets by choice. It's not nice to be called something you're not. What has she done for us? This is our country and we have not done anything to anyone,” he said.
Makau Makgatla, from the Free State, has been living in Sea Point's streets for about three months. He said Ramsay’s comments were reckless andworrying.
“It’s unfortunate of her to make such remarks. Not everyone who lives on the streets is on drugs. I came here with the ambition of getting employment, but things did not work out for me. Why should we be treated like we don't belong here,” he said.
While social development Mayco member Suzette Little refused to comment on the matter, DA leader Mmusi Maimane took to social media, saying: “Shayne Ramsay’s comments do not represent the DA, our values and policies.
“Action is being taken by the relevant structures.”
Ramsay did not respond to questions before deadline.