SOUPS UP: Children eagerly wait outside Reverend Cecil Begbie's garage for a cup of yesterday. The soup kitchen, which has been running since 1990, faces closure following complaints from neighbours. Photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

Simone Alicea

BEFORE 1pm, a crowd had already gathered outside the soup kitchen Reverend Cecil Begbie runs from the garage of his Lansdowne home.

The men stay at the back because they know the drill. Women and children get their cup of vegetable soup first.

Ambrosia Malgas, who lives in the area, has been visiting Begbie’s soup kitchen for 20 years.

She started coming when she was an unemployed, single mother.

Malgas, her daughters and grandchildren still rely on the soup kitchen when work is hard to come by.

“They’re reliable; they’re supportive. Every day they can give soup and a piece of fruit or you can find a piece of bread,” Malgas said.

Malgas was one of about 300 men, women and children who came to the soup kitchen yesterday and one of 6 000 people who Healing, Evangelism, and Leadership Programmes (Help) Ministries serves every day.

The soup kitchen is being threatened with closure by the city after neighbours complained about the crowd of people who come to it.

The city notified the kitchen to close last year under a zoning law.

Begbie was summoned to court in March and the Western Cape High Court will hear the case in September.

Begbie said yesterday that neighbours were worried about break-ins and crime, but that no person who came to his kitchen had been charged.

Malgas said she knew most of the people who went every day and that she didn’t understand why residents would pick on them.

“We aren’t gangsters. Don’t blame these people here who are sleeping on streets and just want something to eat,” she said.

Malgas lives near Lansdowne, but some people walk from as far as Philippi for a cup of soup.

“If it closes, many people will go hungry. There will be people who suffer,” Malgas said.

One of Begbie’s neighbours, Marlene Randall, who confirmed she was a complainant, refused to comment.

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