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Stemme
A haven for the homeless

One of the Helderberg’s notorious “problems” has again reared its ugly head – homeless people.

This time business owners have raised the alarm on the illegal occupation of land in Lourens Street in Gants Centre.

The irate businesspeople claim their business premises have been vandalised, while they have in recent years also had to contend with break-ins. And they are placing the blame squarely at the foot of the homeless people who have set up home along the Lourens River.

Similarly, DistrictMail has previously reported on residents’ concerns concerning the growing number of homeless people living under the Old Bridge near Pick ‘n Pay in Somerset West.

Trolley-pushers and bin scratchers have also been linked to homelessness.

Fear of intimidation and victimisation has caused some residents to turn a blind eye to what is happening.

It’s an old problem which, over the years, seems to have grown exponentially. And as the problem has grown, so too residents’ patience with authorities who, they believe, need to rapidly address the problem.

In an attempt to do so, the City of Cape Town has been running its “Give Responsibly” campaign which urges residents to rather donate to organisations instead of giving to homeless people directly. The effectiveness of the campaign must still be assessed.

Organisations and volunteers working to rehabilitate and reintegrate homeless people back into society are trying their best to lessen the number of people living on the streets in the Helderberg.

But the numbers seem to be growing and there is no way of controlling the perceived influx. Even in first-world countries, homelessness is a reality.

Which begs the question: Is there any way of completely erasing vagrancy?

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