Independent Online

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Outrage after ‘inhumane’ Durban Metro cops throw away homeless people’s blankets during clean-up operation

The image that sparked outrage among Durban residents after police allegedly made homeless people on Gale Street, in the CBD, throw their blankets into a dump truck. Picture: Umbilo Community Policing Forum/Facebook.

The image that sparked outrage among Durban residents after police allegedly made homeless people on Gale Street, in the CBD, throw their blankets into a dump truck. Picture: Umbilo Community Policing Forum/Facebook.

Published May 19, 2022

Share

Durban – The Durban Metro Police have been slammed for being “inhumane and uncaring” after pictures emerged online of officers dumping the blankets of homeless people during a clean-up operation in Umbilo this week.

Several residents have added their angry voices to a groundswell of disapproval of the police action in which officials allegedly forced homeless people to dump their blankets in an awaiting rubbish truck.

Story continues below Advertisement

Residents said the police’s actions were particularly disturbing as winter was approaching.

Police appeared to have been conducting an operation to try to get groups of people sleeping outside businesses in Gale Street to move, according to a post on the Umbilo Community Forum Facebook page.

While it was widely known that the country’s economy needed a turnaround and businesses needed all the help they could get, throwing away the blankets of homeless people before the start of winter was inhumane, said Shani Wood, who runs an NGO in Durban.

Durban Metro Police remove the homeless during a clean-up operation during which the blankets of the homeless were thrown away. Picture: Supplied.

“Moving disadvantaged humans from one area to the next makes no sense. Let’s find a long-term sustainable solution. There are lives at stake. Please collaborate with the many non-profits that are willing to help!

“Lastly, the absolute inhumane action of taking away someone’s blanket lovingly donated/ given to them as we head into winter is just despicable,” Wood said.

Story continues below Advertisement

To make matters worse, she said the police were undoing the works of dedicated NGOs in the city, who have donated many of the blankets that were thrown away during the operation.

A screenshot of what a resident had to say about the incident.

Metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad denied allegations made against the police and said that the image was manipulated to make people believe that the police had a hand in throwing away the blanket.

He told IOL that the man told police “he was tired of being moved and wanted to throw his stuff away and leave”.

Story continues below Advertisement

He said the operation was conducted because police receive numerous calls from business owners, saying that people are sleeping at the entrance of their shops.

“The city has been doing clean up operations for many years. Part of the problem is vagrancy, and the NGOs are encouraging this kind of behaviour on the street rather than taking them to shelters and homes.

“So if there was an issue, then someone must come to the police and file a sworn affidavit on what they saw.

Story continues below Advertisement

“But this particular vagrant [in image above] said that he is tired of being moved by the police. He voluntarily put his stuff in the refuse truck. Businesses have been complaining to us because they can’t open their doors because the vagrants sleep outside them," Sewpersad said.

IOL also contacted the eThekwini Municipality but the city declined to comment.

IOL

Share