‘Don’t give money to beggars’
Call to city to help homeless
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.
A beggar at a busy intersection in Durban.