Helping The Homeless?
I’m not going to pretend to be some sort of saint when it comes to helping homeless people. I rarely give them any money and every now and then I might give them some left-over dinner. But not as often as I should.
Since moving to my new place in central Durbanville, I started noticing just how many homeless people there are in our town. Durbanville has always been the upper-class area of the Northern Suburbs and beggars and homeless people are not something we’re really used to seeing at all the traffic lights etc. Every night, right around the corner from my new apartment, a group of homeless people gather to lay down and sleep. The size of the group varies but it can be up to 15 people some evenings.
I see them almost every night from around 7 – they come, put their blankets, cardboards and food scraps down, and there they fall asleep for the night. Most people ask me if I’m worried about them breaking in to my car etc, and to be honest, I’m not. Not once have I seen them mucking about or causing problems – I come home at different stages of the night (after Hockey, after work, after a night out) and every time they’re all just huddled under a balcony, in front of various small offices and shops in the building – one of these offices happen to be that of the Democratic Alliance (DA). As far as I’ve been able to tell, in the mornings they also move away long before the shops and offices open for business.
About two weeks ago, I noticed something strange upon my return home from work. It was around 7pm and not one homeless person was in-sight under the balcony. What was even stranger, is that on a sunny day with not a cloud in the sky, the floor under the balcony was covered in water. About 30 mins later I left again to attend Hockey training – the homeless folk were still MIA, and the water was still there. Upon closer inspection, I realised that someone had put up a sprinkler-type system to spray water all over the area, to prevent them from sleeping under the, usually dry, cover of the balcony.
After Hockey training I came home to find the homeless folks sleeping on the side of other buildings that do not provide the same cover against the elements as the balcony does – this evening they were dry, but soon enough the winter rain will return and then they won’t be so lucky.
Where Exactly is this?
The map below shows exactly where in Durbanville this is happening. Right in the centre of town, close to Spur, Stones and other popular shops. Right across the road from the Police Station, and right in front of the DA offices. The red dots illustrate where the homeless people used to sleep under the balcony.
I’ve been contemplating about this whole situation for a while now, and only when I saw this advert from the DA, did I decide to write something about it.
Great campaign, right? Really clever, interactive and forward-thinking.
What concerns me is this – why would I give money to them, to help the poor, if they treat the homeless people in Durbanville so badly? I’m not saying that the Durbanville branch of the DA put the homeless-repellent sprinkler system up, but the system runs right by their offices, so I highly doubt that they know nothing of it.
I actually wish I could get one of the stencils in the advert above, to spray it on the stoep in-front of their offices…
Surely they could have found a better way to relocate these guys? Something more humane than being chased away by water? How is this even solving the problem? You’re just forcing them to squat under someone else’s noses now.
I really do love the DA and what they do in and around Cape Town but this pissed me off big time. Again, they might not be responsible, but I’m pretty sure they know about it – Tannie Helen, please? Almost every single person I spoke to pre-elections, who did not vote DA, said it’s because of the way they treat the poor.
Do you know of similar cases like this? Drop a comment below or tweet me @thatWallace