‘Don’t give money to beg­gars’

Call to city to help home­less

Daily News - - NEWS - THOBEKA NGEMA

THERE is at least one beg­gar at most of eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s busiest in­ter­sec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to an eThek­wini by-law, beg­ging is against the law.

The Nui­sances and Be­hav­iour in Public Places By-law states: “No per­son may ap­proach any pedes­trian or a per­son in­side a mo­tor ve­hi­cle on any public road or public road in­ter­sec­tion or any other public place for the pur­poses of beg­ging from such pedes­trian or per­son in a mo­tor ve­hi­cle.”

The Dur­ban North/ uMh­langa Com­mu­nity Po­lice Fo­rum (CPF) has started en­cour­ag­ing res­i­dents not to give money to beg­gars.

Shaun Ry­ley, ward 36 coun­cil­lor, said the ini­tia­tive by the CPF came about be­cause res­i­dents had com­plained of ha­rass­ment by ag­gres­sive beg­gars who threat­ened them when they re­fused to give them money.

“This cam­paign is try­ing to get the public to rather do­nate to or­gan­i­sa­tions such as iCare or the Well­ness Trust which aim to help the home­less. This could be in the form of im­part­ing skills or help­ing them to get an ID book so they can find work,” Ry­ley said.

He said re­mov­ing beg­gars from the area is not the so­lu­tion be­cause it be­comes a prob­lem in another area.

“The city needs to ramp up its ef­forts in set­ting up a fa­cil­ity to as­sist home­less peo­ple. This fa­cil­ity should pro­vide shel­ter and ablu­tions and have peo­ple to as­sist, to give the home­less the dig­nity they de­serve. Sim­ply re­lo­cat­ing beg­gars is not a so­lu­tion, rather the city should fast-track the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a fa­cil­ity,” Ry­ley said.

He said with­out a fa­cil­ity to as­sist the home­less, the public would con­tinue giv­ing directly to beg­gars.

A woman in her late twen­ties said she had no choice but to beg even though it was against the law. Over time, she had man­aged to build trust with peo­ple who reg­u­larly helped her with money and job in­for­ma­tion.

The woman said she had begged for at least a year af­ter a num­ber of failed jobs in Dur­ban and Pre­to­ria, where she is from, left her with no choice but to beg.

“I was left stranded and liv­ing on the streets for al­most two weeks un­til I got the guts to stand at the ro­bots,” she said.

“I can’t just wait for some­thing to come,” she said. “I have a 3-year-old boy who is liv­ing in Pre­to­ria with a friend. I’ve got to look af­ter him and pay the shel­ter R100 ev­ery day. Some­times I only make enough to pay the shel­ter.”

She said she wanted to get set­tled and bring her son to Dur­ban to live with her.

Mandla Nsele, eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity act­ing head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said to date more than 3 000 charges had been is­sued for beg­ging around eThek­wini.

“We are aware of the is­sue of va­grancy and beg­ging, and have been ad­dress­ing it through daily Nui­sances and Be­hav­iour in Public Places By-law en­force­ment op­er­a­tions.

“Dur­ing these op­er­a­tions, the va­grants are re­moved along with their be­long­ings. Metro po­lice, in con­junc­tion with Dur­ban Solid Waste, also re­move old blan­kets and card­board used by va­grants to sleep. These op­er­a­tions are con­ducted mostly in the evenings,” he said.

He said eThek­wini also pro­vided so­cial as­sis­tance to va­grants.

“Since the be­gin­ning of the in­ter­ven­tions last year, hun­dreds of home­less peo­ple have come for­ward for as­sis­tance and they are re­ferred to the De­nis Hur­ley Cen­tre,” he said.

He also said eThek­wini had en­gaged iCare and Agape to pro­vide holis­tic in­ter­ven­tions to street chil­dren, which in­cludes their re­moval from the streets.

PIC­TURE: SIBU­SISO NDLOVU/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

A beg­gar at a busy in­ter­sec­tion in Dur­ban.

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