The Denis Hurley Centrey hosted about 50 homeless people, and politicians from the four largest political parties, to provide them with a platform from which to air their views and speak directly to the parties.
The politicians were Vusi Dube of the ANC, who is a member of the provincial legislature, Nicole Graham of the DA, a member of eThekwini municipality’s executive committee, IFP councillor Thokozile Gumede and Vusi Khoza, provincial chairperson of the EFF.
A woman who identified herself only as Nosipho, asked the politicians why the government had been “slow in giving homes to everyone”, as the right to have a home was enshrined in the Constitution.
Dube said the government had built over a million homes and planned to provide homes to all citizens.
Thandeka Makhanya, 28, lives near the harbour, where a group of homeless people moved after police ordered them to leave their shelters at railway lines. Makhanya, from Johannesburg, came to Durban to study auditing at the Durban University of Technology, but was unable to complete her studies due to personal circumstances.
“I have been searching for a job but when you don’t have experience and are homeless it is very hard to get one,” she said.
Makhanya visits the Denis Hurley Centre regularly.
“I do plan on voting, and I will be voting for the EFF because I saw how they fought to make education accessible to me and everyone else,” she said.
The EFF’s Khoza received the most applause when he said an EFF government would provide housing to all poor people.
Lungelo Shozi, 25, a reformed whoonga addict and ex-convict, said he would vote for the ANC. “We should let the ANC continue because they gave us freedom and have been doing a lot for the country since.”
Shozi, from eFolweni in northern KwaZulu-Natal, passed Grade 11 at school but was arrested in Grade 12. “I was in a holding cell for close to two years on hijacking and attempted murder charges.”
He said he did not commit the crimes, but “because of the people I was around, I got caught up”.
Raymond Perrier, director of the Denis Hurley Centre, said he hoped such engagements between the homeless and politicians would continue to take place after the elections.