“Exemptions from the bylaw for homeless people will increase impunity and lead to worse social conditions on the street. I haven’t heard a similar exemption being called for on our beaches‚ where at least we have toilets available‚” Khan said.
But Anastacia Williams‚ who is homeless and lives with a group of about six people on Voortrekker Road in Elsies River‚ told GroundUp she has been fined R500 on three occasions.
“I can’t go scratch in the bin and find R1‚500 lying there‚” she said.
“You find good [law-enforcement] guys who feel sorry for you and enter wrong details‚ such as spelling your name wrongly‚ intentionally. They then give you a warning‚” she said. She has never had to pay the fines. “Government should come up with initiatives to help us earn an income. A lot of us would like to work‚ but we don’t have IDs. They should come down here to talk and offer help‚” she said.
Williams has been living on pavements in Parow and Elsies River for eight years. She said she studied accounting but gave up her work as a stores' manager to care for her grandmother until her death. She fled the home in Bonteheuwel after coming into conflict with her grandfather’s new wife.
Greg Francis‚ a sales manager at a shop where Williams and her group are encamped‚ said litter is an issue and people are forced to walk in the road around the homeless camp. The group has also removed drain covers to create storage places for bedding and cardboard boxes. He said the drains get blocked and the area outside his premises floods when it rains. He thinks having the group outside makes customers hesitant to enter his shop.
But Williams said the nearest shelter is in Bellville‚ which charges R30 for sleeping and R20 extra for a bath. She doesn’t like the shelter because couples are separated. She prefers to sleep on the street.
This article was first published by GroundUp.