Some kids live in drains as city has no shelters
THERE are no homeless shelters in East London and the most destitute members of society rely on the kindness of churches and organisations.
Lynne Glover, of City Life Church, said they had fed people from their soup kitchen every Saturday morning for the past decade, with the numbers having risen fourfold from 70 people to 300.
“We have prayer meetings before we give out the food.
“Over the last few years, the people who come to the soup kitchen are different. In the past, we never had women, white men or children.
“Now we have seen an increase in the number of those people who come through,” she said.
Glover said 12 children between the ages of 10 and 15 came for sustenance every other Saturday.
“Some of the people are homeless. They sleep in the streets in Quigney or Southernwood, while others live in the bush on the North East Expressway.
“Some people are not homeless but they are hungry. We have a guy that walks from Duncan Village because he says this is the only warm meal he gets for the week.
“We do this because we know that being a Christian is not about going to church every Sunday. It is about being kind to one another as Jesus has instructed us,” Glover said.
Port Rex Lions president Leslie Human reiterated that there were no homeless shelters in the city.
He said volunteers regularly provided sandwiches and soup to pockets of homeless people living rough in the city centre.
“In lower Oxford Street, near Fort Hare University, there are about 50 people – women, men and children – living on the embankment in wooden structures,” said Human.
“They start eating immediately because they are so hungry.
“When you see two and threeyear-olds, both white and black, come because they are looking for food, it breaks your heart.”
Human said he was shocked to see young boys who appeared to live in stormwater drains in Oxford Street.
“When you stop [to hand out food] just one boy is there but suddenly there are more.”
Human said the city was in “dire need” of a homeless shelter.
“Even if it’s just a roof over their heads at night because there are homeless people all over living in little pockets.”
Social development provincial spokesman Mzukisi Solani said they had 22 Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDC) for food, around the province.
In the BCM area these included Onikayo in Bhongweni, Shalom in Duncan Village and Siphumeze in Dimbaza.
She said their obligation was to ensure families were reunited.
“We do not have raids around town, or collect people and dump them in one house. We do our best to reunite people with their loved ones,” she said. — siyat@ dispatch.co.za