Homeless people take shelter in Pretoria. File Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
THE Tshwane Homelessness Forum has appealed to the public to donate blankets and warm clothing to the homeless in the city.

The organisation’s Tebogo Mpufane said many factors were at play when people were homeless. “This is why I am asking people to donate blankets, or even beans to make soup, for the chronic street homeless community.”

The organisation was started in 2001 in Sunnyside and caters for the needs of the homeless, rape victims and people living with HIV and Aids.

“People shouldn’t be quick to say how bad homeless people smell, but there are many factors at play. “They don’t just run away from home, which is why I’m asking anyone to give a blanket and clothes to homeless persons. You never know what that kind gesture might do to their lives.

“If you could just stop for a minute to think about our chronic street homeless community of Region 3 in the inner city, imagine what it means for them to sleep on the streets without food and without blankets on a cold night in the unforgiving and cruel winter season,” Mpufane said.

“Help a brother or sister by donating blankets and food; just play your part.”

He said they slept on pavements covering themselves with piles of boxes and plastics without blankets, which put them at high risk of developing hypothermia, a condition where the body loses heat faster than the body can produce it.

These are the people who take chronic medication, and Mpufane identified the group that sleeps by the Princess Park taxi rank and behind the Church Square Standard Bank.

According to ER24 chief medical officer, Dr Robyn Holgate, people don’t have to be freezing for hypothermia to develop.

Holgate said accidental hypothermia could affect homeless people; the unintentional drop in body temperature to less than 35°C can occur when the body’s usual responses to cold begin to fail.