In this past week, I have seen three homeless men urinating in public- in the street to be precise, one homeless woman walking in a panty and bra and another who urinated in her pants walking down the m4 highway in Claremont. Should such people, who clearly have no care who sees them, be helped?
Close to the jammie shuttle stop in Claremont there is a shelter for the homeless. Often late at night there would be homeless people (mostly men) who would go to students and ask them for money to buy food. Upon encountering these men and women, I often feel bad that I am unable to give them and of course because of their situation. Now and then you will even see women walking with children, which softens your heart and makes open up your wallet. Likewise at Cape Town train station. There is a couple with their little boy who I see regularly on the train begging people for money and food. They would usually get the latter. I myself have given them something to eat, hoping that at least the child will not go to bed hungry. However, what really irks me is when drunk homeless men come begging.
The last drunk man who asked me for money to buy something to eat received food instead. He thanked me profusely and went on his way. The homelessness situation in Cape Town is extremely bad. As the temperatures drop and rain starts fall, life for a homeless person gets rough. Klip, who is a homeless man in Claremont says that he hasn’t always lived on the streets, “I grew up in Mitchell’s Plain and I still have family that there”. He recalls that he has been living on the streets for 15 years.
My mother died when i was a little boy, leaving me with family who did not treat me right. It was then that I decided to run away and look after myself
Living out on the streets is very difficult. Over the years he has had odd jobs here and there, but people wouldn’t really go out of their way to employ a homeless person. During winter, homeless people often get sick. “When I go to the day hospital they usually chase me away, unless they see I am really sick then they help me as quick as they can”, Klip recalls. As a coping mechanism and way to keep warm they will often drink and do drugs. Klip laughs when I asked wine over food, “Meisie kind, die wyn hou jou warm en jou mag vol, maar ek sal nooit nee sê vir kos nie”. So they beg for money to buy alcohol first and then food, well some homeless people anyway.
Once I finished my conversation with Klip I handed him a Styrofoam plate with last night’s supper. It really gladdened my heart that I could make someone’s day with food that I probably would’ve thrown out anyway. During this time of the year, much help is needed at homeless shelters. If you would like to help out anyway you can, below is link to homeless shelters in Cape Town.