Help for homeless man

Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association field worker, Kevin Alexander with Jan Opperman who has left the streets of Sea Point.

The Sea Point Fresnaye Bantry Bay Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SFB) Homelessness Outreach Prevention and Education (HOPE) project is continuing with its work to reunite homeless people with their families or place them in shelters.

More than R21000 has been raised on BackABuddy to help the organisation create outreach programmes for homeless people, fund transport for street people who would like to leave the streets and go into shelters or back to their families and employ more field and social workers to deal with the situation on the ground and run educational campaigns.

Jan Opperman, 53, who has been living on the streets of Sea Point is the latest person to be placed in a shelter in his home town in Ceres.

Mr Opperman grew up in Ceres where he received minimal schooling and worked as a farm labourer.

He shared with sadness how he tried to manoeuvre a farming machine in 1985 while planting fruit trees on a farm and his leg got caught in the machine, causing his leg to be surgically amputated just below his knee.

With no income and no family to support him, he ended up homeless and living on the streets. Last year, he made his way to the streets of Sea Point and often slept on the promenade near Fort Road.

This is where he met SFB field worker, Kevin Alexander who said Mr Opperman did not have an ID document and never received a disability grant.

“After about six contact sessions on the street with him, I eventually persuaded Jan to get off the streets and into a place of safety. After countless phone calls for bed space at a shelter or a safe space without any luck, I went to speak to him again and handed him a new sleeping bag and a comfort pack and advised him that I was looking for shelter space for him,” said Mr Alexander.

He said that break came last week Sunday when he made contact with the manager of the Haven Night Shelter in Ceres, who went out of her way to listen to their story put him in contact with her social worker who assisted. “Between the manager and social worker a bed space was made available for Jan,” he said.

Mr Opperman finally bid farewell to the streets of Sea Point after another SFB fieldworker Denim Lourens accompanied him in his wheelchair to Green Point Clinic for Covid-19 screening and was welcomed in his home town after 38 years.