Media: City homeless say World Cup glamour is forcing them out

10 12 2009

‘we are like insects to them, or flies’

December 04, 2009 Edition 1

Homeless residents complained yesterday that they were being forced from the streets of Cape Town to make way for a host of star-studded, glamorous events surrounding next year’s World Cup.Isaac Lewis, 41, said police had arrested him for loitering six times in the past month. Before that, Lewis said, police had mostly left him alone. He said he had been homeless for most of his life.

Police harassment “is increasing, every day it’s increasing”, he said. “It’s because they want to make a good impression for the foreigners coming.

“We are like insects to them, or flies.”

Lesley de Rueck, Cape Town’s director of 2010 operations, denied the city was putting pressure on the homeless for the sake of the World Cup.

Felicity Purchase, a city councillor and member of the mayoral committee on economic development and tourism, said that the city wanted to get people off the streets for their own good as well as to keep it “tidy”.

Linzi Thomas, who founded a project to help street children and the homeless, was convinced today’s draw ceremony and next year’s tournament were the reasons that local authorities had been putting pressiure on the homeless in recent months to move off the streets.

She said they had been made to move into settlements like Blikkiesdorp.

Ziettha Meyer, 29, said she was taken off the streets and brought to Blikkiesdorp by a social worker who had threatened to throw her in jail if she did not go.

“She just came and dropped us here like we were a bunch of chickens,” she said. “We didn’t have a choice.”




2 responses

12 12 2009
David Scott

I have experienced the misery of homelessness at several points in my life and, although there is a certain sense of freedom to it, it is a dangerous and miserable lifestyle that is hard to rise out of. Contrary to popular belief, most homeless did not become so out of choice and not because they are lazy, stupid, or immoral. Many homeless people are victims of abuse in the form of neglect and abandonment by their parents or other caregivers. Like many victims of abuse, a lot of them have chemical dependency problems. Their pain is so deep that they use alcohol or other drugs as an escape. Some of them are simply victims of life’s tragedies, such as hurricanes, fires, or other catastrophes from which they simply don’t have the resources to recover. Also, there is a snowball effect that occurs with homelessness. After all, who is going to hire someone with no address? Most homeless people don’t have the resources to even do their laundry; who is going to hire someone in filthy clothes? Also once a person has fallen to the level of living on the streets it is very difficult for them to get a job even if they are capable of working, because the condition of homelessness creates a low sense of self-esteem which makes it difficult to relate to other people. It is difficult to find, much less keep a job once a person’s self-esteem is so badly damaged. I invite you to my blog devoted to raising awareness on homelessness: There you will find an article and pictures I have taken of homeless people. I always give them a dollar or two for the privilege of photographing them. I am often surprised by their cheerfulness and sense of pride. Often, they will show themselves to have some kind of talent. There is a fine line between genius and insanity.

22 01 2010
Corruption and forced removals in Tin Can Town « Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

[…] Its clear: Blikkiesdorp is not a place for Delft’s homeless. Its a place where the City can throw people they evict from their homes in Woodstock, Gugulethu and Belhar. Its where they can dump ‘unwanted’ foreign nationals. Its where they can hide people that live and work on the streets in Cape Town’s CBD just in time for the Word Cup. […]

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