I would like to thank Yolanda, a lady who took the trouble to write a beautiful letter to the editor about my column.
Yolanda, thank you! I appreciate the gesture and the contents of your message.
People don’t realise how challenging this journey I am on is, sharing my lived experience to try to let others not only get a glimpse of the reality of life on the streets, but also change how ignorance has formed the basis of their response towards individuals living on the streets. A gesture like yours keeps me keeping on with what I do.
Now, on to a situation that I find deplorable. Last week, I came across a post by a DA councillor on a WhatsApp group.
Councillor Katherine Christie in sub-council 11 and councillor for ward 58 seems to be unaware of the previous DA councillor who lost her position in council for saying a great deal less than she did in her communication.
Having waxed lyrical in one of the most ill-informed and discriminatory posts I have ever had the misfortune of having to read, she then goes on to say the following:
“The City is proceeding with thousands of eviction orders to go through our courts to move squatters away from our streets and public open spaces. The mayor is prioritising ‘Area North’ where we have the most tents and people living on the streets. This is the City and the Atlantic Seaboard area. Our ward, (Kenilworth, Claremont and Rondebosch) falls under ‘Area South’ and ‘Area Central’.”
Not satisfied, she then goes on to say: “I want to encourage you to log as many C3 complaints and make as many 107 calls regarding people living on your street as possible, for our suburbs to be prioritised.”
So, it seems to me as if it is now acceptable for DA councillors to not only spread the City’s false narrative about how they assist those living on the streets, but they are now seemingly encouraged to manipulate the residents in their wards to continuously put calls and complaints through merely to prioritise the removal of those living on the streets in their wards. Removal to where?
I wonder, seeing as most of these individuals would refuse the offer of a place in Safe Spaces and shelters, even if there was sufficient space, which there is not.
It has now become obvious how the DA, its safety and security Mayco member and the mayor can substantiate their claim of the vast number of calls they receive on a monthly basis in terms of complaints from the public about those experiencing homelessness.
They have their councillors virtually insisting on residents logging as many complaints and calling in as many times as possible to achieve the statistics that they can then use to explain their often illegitimate actions against those living on the streets to both the public and in court.
So, again the DA manipulates the system to promote its narrative. Worst of all is that the whole 4-page diatribe she offers as a motivation for why this is a good thing for the residents to do for those living on the streets is probably the biggest load of hogwash I have ever come across!
This is simply just wrong!
But of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. Who remembers the outcry about two years ago when JP Smith asked the public to complain about those living on the streets and had a questionnaire published that featured only questions that pertained to observing those living on the streets in a negative light?
This was done to get his proposed nuisance by-laws changed to what they are today, which criminalise homelessness and make absolutely no sense.
The by-laws stipulate that you are not allowed to sleep on the street or take a rest in public places, or hang around a public space for too long, yet it is their very Safe Spaces that evict people back on to the streets after 3/6 months and it is these same shelters and safe spaces that expect you to come in at 6pm and leave at 6am.
Those still doubting Alderman Smith having done anything wrong with regards to the new traffic by-laws that caused the crises we have just had to endure as a City, and who want to believe it was all Santaco and the national government supporting the taxi associations, look no further than how Alderman Smith works lawlessly and with impunity in the homeless sector to find your true answer.
* Carlos Mesquita.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.