Festive for some, bleak for others
THE festive season is in full swing, but it is not all jingle bells for the homeless, informal traders and businesses in the city's CBD.
Nonetheless, those who have remained in the city will be glad to know that essential services will not be affected by the holiday season.
Homeless people said yesterday the handouts and donations by motorists had been reduced to almost nothing in the past week.
Shaun Pistorius, 37, a beggar at the intersection of Nelson Mandela Drive and Willow Road, said that by noon yesterday, he had only made R20; in the previous years he would have made well over R100.
Pistorius said he found solace on the streets because of his abusive and alcoholic stepfather, and was smart enough to know that the cost of living also had a ripple effect on them.
“We are not stupid. We know that petrol, food and electricity costs are going up. Motorists would rather save the little they have to feed their own families.”
Another, who resides next to Princes Park Avenue, also lamented the “lack of loose change at intersections”. The man, who came out of jail in February after serving 20 years, said he had no choice but to live on the streets because he had lost contact with his family. “I don’t want to be here, but I have no choice. I’ll have to see how I survive this festive season by all means possible,” he said.
Motorist Kyle Chlup explained why he had stopped giving to beggars: “By giving handouts, you are perpetuating a cycle of poverty.”
Informal traders in the city centre said they had started feeling the pinch in sales as pedestrians had decreased daily since the start of the holiday season.
Armando Chauke, who sells corn at Church Square, said: “When people start leaving for Christmas holidays it gets very lonely and quiet here in town and we lose business.”
Jeffrey Mponde said he started selling vetkoek in the CBD because he was on a Christmas break and needed to make extra income. “Of course as we head to Christmas there will be fewer and fewer people in town, so right now I am trying to sell as many vetkoek as possible.”
But the good news is that there would be no interruption of municipal services, City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said. City staff would be on duty to attend to urgent calls and queries by residents about essential services such as the repair of unexpected water leaks and power outages.
He said emergency services such as the Tshwane Metro Police Department would continue to be rendered 24 hours a day. “The Tshwane Emergency Services, as an essential service, will be operating 24/7,” he said.
The only time when fewer staff will be on shift is on public holidays such as Christmas Day, the Day of Goodwill on December 26 and New Year’s Day.
“Office personnel for normal administration duties will only be closed as indicated by Council on December 27 and 28 and normal public holidays,” Mashigo said.
Residents were encouraged to use the services as normal because the City had ensured they were not inconvenienced by the festive season. “Arrangements have been made to ensure that adequate artisans are available to attend to water and sanitation complaints and repairs as and when required,” Mashigo said.
“Walk-in centres will be closed as they are a non-essential service. However, call centres will be operating as normal,” he said.
For those wanting to cool off, municipal swimming pools will remain open to the public.
Mashigo said regional swimming pools would be open daily, but closed on Christmas Day.
Resort swimming pools will also be open daily, including on Christmas Day.
He assured residents that the issue of the visibility of lifeguards was sorted out.
“The City has made provision that sufficient lifeguards will be available at all the municipal swimming pools during the festive season,” Mashigo said.