Cape Town - Venetia Orgill, known as the “Angel of the Gardens” for feeding people on the streets in the CBD every week, has reached out to the Sea Point councillor who has come under fire for her remarks on the homeless, which infuriated many.
Orgill says she wants to take DA councillor Shayne Ramsay to the Company’s Garden where she feeds up to 200 people every Thursday to help her understand that while they may be homeless, they were still human beings.
“I would like her to see the other side. It is amazing what can be done if you just take time out to listen to what people need.”
She said it was amazing how healing a hug could be.
After ongoing complaints from her constituents, Ramsay wrote on Facebook there were approximately 4 000 people living on the streets in greater Cape Town, generally comprised of three groups of people - criminals (who are in and out of overcrowded prisons), mentally disabled or social outcasts, and those who are genuinely down on their luck.
She said: “We are a community, we are all in this together and vagrants are also people. But if they chose to live in a society like Sea Point, then they have to behave in a manner which is acceptable to other residents.”
She has since apologised and called off a planned march on grime, but the ANC has called for her to be suspended with immediate effect while the SACP said it would lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.
Anneke Scheepers, DA Western Cape spokeswoman, said Ramsay would be investigated by the speaker of the Cape Town City council.
Orgill said she had seen some of the comments made by residents of Sea Point about the homeless.
“There is so much racism among the super-rich.”
But she said that when she tracked Ramsay down on Facebook, the councillor had responded immediately and hadn't hesitated to agree to meet with her. “Sometimes people make mistakes, so I’d like to invite her to see for herself.”
Many of those Orgill feeds are former accountants and advocates who had fallen on hard times and were mentally and emotionally broken down.
She also works hard to get people off the street for good, using her NGO Discover Your Power. She said there was no feeding scheme in Sea Point.
“There is no one doing feed with a difference like I do,” she said, referring to her efforts to get those she feeds the help they need to turn their lives around.
When the Cape Argus contacted Ramsay, she said she would be keen to meet Orgill but couldn’t comment further.