A homeless man washes himself on a field in District Six. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency
A homeless man washes himself on a field in District Six. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Danny's Diary: The homeless can't vote, but prisoners can

By Danny Oosthuizen Time of article published May 14, 2019

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The voting is over. The people have spoken and democracy is alive.

People across the country stood in long queues. But the queue for food given out to the homeless could have been longer.

It amazes me how many people out there talk politics, yet don’t know who is who in our parliamentary zoo. Many of these people don’t vote.

They don’t realise they have an obligation towards themselves and fellow South Africans to vote into power those who run our country.

I said “run” not “ruin”.

Over 6000 people living on the streets of Cape Town could not vote.

No politician ever came to talk to us. They never took the time to engage. Yet they make decisions on our behalf. It’s odd - homeless people can’t vote, but prisoners can.

To me, the right to vote is of vital importance.

We did not vote. We had no say. No choice.

It’s a little bit more technical than that. The challenge was proving where you stay.

But the powers-that-be chase us from one side of a road to the other - they call it successful operations.

If you ask me, it’s an exercise to get rid of their frustrations.

It’s sad when you leave your humanity behind because your interest lies with the corporate bulldog.

You know - chase out the locals, even though they were living in areas like Woodstock for generations.

In the city there are the monstrosities of so-called environment-friendly buildings and apartments.

But the locals can’t afford the rentals.

I wish I could take the readers on a trip to Blikkiesdorp. There are people living there who were born in certain communities.

They were part of the Struggle, but are being taken advantage of purely because they are poor. It proves the inequality in our society.

Our president quotes the late Hugh Masekela’s song Tuma Mina during his speech in Parliament.

Ironically the president drives past homeless elderly people who sleep in front of Parliament, but goes and enjoys a jog on the Sea Point promenade with the rich.

I think back to the times of the French and Russian revolutions.

Hunger caused ordinary people to rid themselves of the monarchies. We have a lot of hungry people here

We all talk about democracy and human rights. We will implement it? Will violations be dealt with?

Living on the street, we are a nation bound together through homelessness. We are like-minded citizens pushing towards a city rid of poverty, hunger and rights violations.

We are the homeless nation.

* 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: mase[email protected]

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus

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