On the last night of 2018, I was outside, close to the Company’s Garden, waiting for the final countdown, the spectacular fireworks show and was excited to see so many people around me celebrating the dawn of a new year.
But this night turned sour. There were those who came into our city with bad intentions; to rob and loot the city, its tourists and, low and behold, us homeless.
They came en masse, intoxicated, travelling in minibuses carrying more passengers than is legally allowed.
The city looked like a bomb had hit it; broken bottles everywhere, rowdy children in groups Like a pack of wolves, they went up and down Long Street and simply took what they wanted. Grab a phone or bag here. Rip a chain from the owner’s neck there.
Police, law enforcement and the CCID had a challenging time trying to manage safety issues as this lot was hostile, drunk or high, with no regard for the safety of others or their property.
Many of us realised we were in the epicentre of trouble, so I moved away from the inner city.
The next day, the streets resembled a war scene.
This is when I realised, the city would never be the same again.
The biggest issue I have is that these guys come in, wreak havoc, and hop on a train early the next morning, only to return later to continue their spree. And it’s us homeless who are caught in the crossfire, blamed for their actions.
The last two weeks were the worst.
I lost a friend who suddenly died after arriving at the hospital.
I am also being followed and harassed by a guy and his girlfriend - a homeless couple I once lived with. They must have a PhD in aggressive begging. They go on a begging spree and word has it, he loves to use his knife. I don’t know how to handle the situation. I fear for my life.
I bought a phone from a friend, only to find out the phone had been reported stolen and blocked. The emotional turmoil I went through, knowing what this “friend” had done hurts like hell.
The loyalty we once shared among us, the respect for one another, seems to have disappeared. People smile at you, but they’re busy planning how they can use you. And some can be so smooth. They steal your clothing or run away with your money when you send them to the shops.
The silly thing is, they have nowhere to run to, really, so you bump into each other later. Reporting them to the police doesn’t help, because the culprits may end up coming to you in vengeance.
Who can one trust? Believe me when I tell you I am way beyond paranoid.
I don’t feel safe on the streets anymore. It is a nerve-racking ordeal walking in the city.
* Danny Oosthuizen is the #TheDignityProject ambassador. In his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus, he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.