"Last week, the city was up in arms regarding fines issued to the homeless who are sleeping outside. This fine is nothing but a prison sentence," Danny Oosthuizen writes. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
They say society is only as strong as its weakest link. Let us look at the homeless phenomenon.

I am not going into why, how, etc. I want to understand the sheer animosity and hostility some members of society bestow on us - the vagrant, vermin, “bergies” and scum.

As a homeless person you could be jailed and shoved into a cell for being on a spot or area for too long. Loitering they call it. Took us a while to make the authorities aware this is unconstitutional and against the law, by-law or no by-law.

Last week, the city was up in arms regarding fines issued to the homeless who are sleeping outside. This fine is nothing but a prison sentence for those who cannot afford to pay it. Go find me some shelter space, please.

There is no official representation of the homeless in our city.

Strangers decide on our behalf. We at times get fed stale bread just to hear “beggars can’t be choosers”. Beggars have taste buds too

Every bit of human decency is squeezed out of us. More than three years ago I talked about the lack of toilets, washing and storage facilities.

I am still doing so. And if anybody tells me again we want to live outside, then please make some space for me in your house.

Regarding the Al-Noor Orphanage Centre, I have been saying this since day one: do independent auditing. Not all is criminally intended. If a hotel donates 70 king-size duvets, think about it, the shelter only has single beds.

Generous retailers donate sell-by-date food. At times the shelter receives one chocolate cake. Surely the staff can have it during a tea break?

Hopefully the Al-Noor issue will wake people from a deep sleep of oblivion and be more pro-active. Don’t double park your car and dump your donations in front of the shelter. Hand it out yourself.

The SAPS has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons. We are very aware of the drug issue we have in the city, yet we are totally in denial.

An officer was caught in a public toilet at Blue Waters Beach abusing a substance, and arrested by a fellow officer.

What do we expect from our law-enforcement officers, SAPS, etc? To be human like all of us? They don't walk on water.

I do not care for the reason why he used, but to take him and regard him as a hard-core criminal seems harsh. Would he have been better off with bottles of codeine syrup from a pharmacy? One of the most addictive substances you can buy sans prescription. No hassle.

We are saving lives with the Harm Reduction initiative where dagga is being given as a substitute for heroin. The results are staggering. We are saving lives.

More on this topic next week.

* Danny Oosthuizen is the ambassador of #TheDignityProject. In his weekly 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.

Cape Argus