Homeless people in the metro have expressed their shock at the City of Cape Town Municipality’s complaints forms, which call on residents to report the “impact” that homeless people have on them and their businesses. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Homeless people in the metro have expressed their shock at the City of Cape Town Municipality’s complaints forms, which call on residents to report the “impact” that homeless people have on them and their businesses. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Homeless speak out against City of Cape Town’s complaint forms

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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FROM leaving home to escape abuse to feeling criminalised for not having a safe place to sleep.

Homeless people in the metro have expressed their shock at the City of Cape Town Municipality’s complaints forms, which call on residents to report the “impact” that homeless people have on them and their businesses.

Speaking from the Cape Town taxi rank on Monday, Aphelele Mgijima who has been living on the street for almost six years, said homeless people were subjected to all kinds of violence daily.

“Some of us would like to go back to our homes but we can’t because we escaped a harsh living. Some of us have been abused and received death threats so that is why we live on the streets.”

Near the Foreshore on Monday Melanie Hendricks, originally from Bonteheuwel, said the City’s form should be regarded as unlawful.

“I left home for many reasons, one of them is the abuse but seemingly the abuse keeps following me because we are being abused by the police and the City. If the City doesn’t want us on the street they must build a safe and better place for us. The City has previously promised to build a safe place for us but like any other politicians they have (made) empty promises. This is sad because they want to see us in jail, at some point we were made to pay insane amounts of money for fines and if you fail they take you to jail. They know clearly that we are homeless but still they charge us those amounts, they are being driven by greed,” said Hendricks.

Mlungisi Qamata, also speaking from the taxi rank, said the City had criminalised everything homeless people did.

“If they arrest us it means they will have to arrest almost everyone in town because people litter every day on the street. In this country if you live on the streets you are a criminal even though you have not committed any crime. I wonder if they would have introduced this if the majority of people were of the other colour (white). We are being arrested here even if we have done nothing,” said Qamata.

Mike Wetton, walking along Buitengracht Street, said: “They are obsessed with homeless people. Instead of coming up with a plan that will benefit the City and the homeless, they want to see us in jail and yet those who commit serious crimes are walking free and never arrested. People will now report false crimes because they don’t want to see us. They are just inhumane and heartless. They can try to arrest us but that will not reduce the number of people on the street.”

Originally from Khayelitsha Zimkhitha Olifant has been living on the street for three years.

Speaking from Adderley Street on Monday she said: “They want to arrest us for minor crimes instead of employing more people to clean the town. The town is not dirty because of us but they don’t want to hire people. It’s rainy season now and they should at least build more shelters for us if they don’t want us occupying buildings and littering on the streets,” said Olifant.

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