Durban - The city has put the brakes on a homeless project that won the approval of many residents citing an infringement of by-laws as the reason.
Samuels Siza Foundation, a local company that had been paying homeless people to market their brand at intersections while also cleaning the intersections - instead of begging - have been told to shut down their initiative.
On Wednesday, 20 March, Darin Samuels from the Samuels Group of Companies took the Security and Emergency Services Committee through a lengthy presentation and advised that they had embarked on a pilot project to assist the city in eliminating beggars that loiter at intersections said eThekwini Municipality's spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela.
Samuels envisaged the use of vagrants and beggars to start a garden project within these intersections in order to remove the criminal element.
According to the foundation the project was intended to roll out in three phases.
The red T-shirt phase was to bring about awareness on social media as well as to create conversation about this very different approach to helping and preventing begging.
The green T-shirt phase was letting the public know that they are still not begging, but now working!
The final phase had not been implemented but was supposed to be a theatre production and rehearsal titled, I am an Afrikan yesterday, today and tomorrow.
“We had 80 people at 68 intersections in Durban. It was growing daily. People contacted us to join the Initiative to change their lives. They felt that their dignity has been restored. Our aim was to empower 400 people at 200 intersections across Durban. Thereafter to roll out the project to other cities across South Africa,” Samuels said.
Mayisela said that while the presentation was noted by the committee, Samuel was then advised that this matter should initially be deliberated with relevant units such as safer city unit and Durban Metro Police. A meeting was held between the foundation and relevant stakeholders,” Mayisela said.
He said two critical points were raised in this meeting:
- Begging at the intersections contravenes the Nuisances and Behaviour in Public By-law, which states that begging is unlawful,
- The initiative is also asking for people to take photos from a cellphone and that is an infringement of the National Road traffic Act (No.93 of 1996).
Mayisela said based on this, the foundation was requested to revise their approach.
“The Municipality appreciates any initiative that seeks to assist it in dealing with people begging on the streets but these initiatives need to be in compliance with the city and at all times it is incumbent on the City to ensure that by-laws are enforced for the benefit of all residents,” he said.
Samuels said the campaign has been met with adversity. The homeless were also trained in basic gardening.
Mayisela said eThekwini is a caring city under and no circumstances shall it "obstruct a project that is aimed at making a difference to the poor.”