Heather Hayward Rorick, a community leader and member of the Bulwer Safety and Urban Regeneration Forum, said members and community members had shared their frustrations on the forum’s Facebook page.
“People feel they are doing good and give these children money. They don’t realise that they are indirectly fuelling their addiction to drugs. We have witnessed it numerous times when these guys throw food away because that’s not what they want; they want money for drugs,” she said.
Rorick said motorists were at risk of being involved in accidents because of obstruction by beggars. “This has become an epidemic. It has been left unattended for far too long, and it won’t be resolved overnight. A motorist could hit another vehicle or a pole while trying to avoid these beggars. We have a meeting with the deputy mayor (Fawzia Peer) at the city hall tomorrow (today) to discuss the problem and seek possible solutions,” she said.
Rorick questioned if the city was enforcing its by-laws on loitering and jaywalking.
Various members of the forum expressed how frustrating it was to be harassed by the beggars when they offered them food instead of money.
Joanne Olivier posted: “I have bought him (referring to a beggar) Wacky Wednesday (a fast food outlet special) and a milkshake. He threw it on the road. Wanted money.”
Jeanine Elliot-Le Roux posted: “The saga continues it appears that the abuse from these guys continues. Any idea what else can be done to get these guys help?”
The city’s Nuisances and Behaviour in Public Places By-law prohibit people from begging on any public road or public road intersection, or any other public place.
Peer said the problem was getting out of hand and needed all stakeholders to find lasting solutions.
“It’s going to be us, NGOs and other stakeholders discussing how best we should work towards finding a solution to the problem,” she said of today’s meeting.
“These people are increasing at an alarming rate. I’ve received messages from the NGOs requesting disused buildings where they can take care of them. We will discuss all possible solutions at that meeting.”
Last year, the municipality said it would take a holistic approach to help those living on the streets and reduce begging, drug abuse and crime in the city.
The move was prompted by a report tabled at the full council sitting on April 26 last year.
The report outlined the adoption of the Social Development Strategy and the implementation of recommendations emanating from an in-depth homeless study conducted in the city. These recommendations included drop-in centres, shelters as well as policy development to “address these social ills”.
Nicole Graham, DA caucus leader at eThekwini Municipality, said she had proposed the establishment of drug rehabilitation facilities by the city, but the proposal was voted against at a council meeting last month.
“The city is being ravaged by drug abuse. The simple reality is that whoonga and similar drugs are heroin- based. Unless there is a chance for addicts to detox and be rehabilitated, there is no hope.
“While other cities are finding solutions, eThekwini is doing very little,” Graham said.
“If we do not address the drug problem sufficiently, crime will increase, families and communities will suffer and our tourism market and economy won’t improve.”