No EC shelter for people on street

The state does not have shelters to house the homeless of the Eastern Cape.

COMPASSION: Thuma-mna, an organisation in Nompumelelo, built a homeless man a wooden structure last week. Standing is the happy owner, Luyanda Sbharho, who previously lived on a dump. Seated from left are Zoliswa Tsonono, Simamkele Nongongo, Esethu Busakhwe, Bukelwa Sigonyela and Thulisiwe Solomon Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

Provincial social development spokesman Mzukisi Solani told the Saturday Dispatch this week that whenever there was a case of a homeless person anywhere in the province, they treated each individual case on its merits.

“We have discovered that there are people that are not homeless but they simply beg in the streets. So you will find that the person will wake up at home and go to town to beg and return home in the evening.

“Then there are cases where our social workers have assessed the person and the situation and have found that the person is mentally disturbed and that matter is handed over to the department of health to deal with.

“Overall, the state does not have a shelter to accommodate homeless people,” Solani said.

He said their mission as a department was to put families together and so they investigated and searched for people’s relatives and tried to reconcile them.

“We believe in the reunification of families, so whenever we intervene, we do our best to make families whole again.

“What we also do is to find out why the person was on the streets in the first place and we do our best to ensure that once they are removed from the streets, they stay off the streets.

“Some people are removed but they go back. We want to ensure that their needs are met and they do not go back to the streets,” Solani added.

Eastern Cape health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said they did not have a mandate to deal with the homeless. He said that was solely the responsibility of the department of social development.

In 2015, the Dispatch reported that there were six murders on the streets of East London in which all the targeted victims were homeless.

East London has several organisations that have soup kitchens for the homeless to be fed around the city.

BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond said: “Buffalo City Metro has by-laws that every citizen has to adhere to.

“These by-laws are there to assist law enforcement officers when they have to enforce the law and control the behaviour of the people in the street.

“According to the metro’s street by-laws a person who is found to be causing a nuisance to other people by loitering, standing or sleeping on the street or public place will be fined R100.

“However, for the by-laws to be effective the person must have an identity document.” — siyat@dispatch.co.za

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