A homeless man lost his life in Sea Point on Monday morning of suspected exposure to the winter cold.
His body was found by Desmond Elias, who also lives on the streets and works as a car guard.
Mr Elias said he went to the beach at around 4am to relieve himself when he saw the body on the sand.
“I saw the man lying there and wondered why he didn’t have his blanket because it was cold. I went over to offer him a blanket and tell him to go up and sleep where we are sleeping but there was no response,” he said.
Mr Elias said he shook the body and searched for a pulse. He said he realised that the man was dead but he was not yet stiff.
“I didn’t know what to do but fortunately, I saw someone walking his dog and I went to him and told him what I’ve just saw and asked him to call the police,” he said.
Mr Elias said the man took too long to call the police and he decided to go to the security officers at the SABC to ask for help. The officers and the ambulance came and confirmed that the man had died.
Mr Elias said the dead man was still new in Sea Point and though he had spoken to him the day before, he didn’t know much about him. He said he didn’t seem to be sick.
He said this was the second death of a homeless person in the area that he knows of in the space of two months.
Sea Point for All member Isa Jacobson, said the government and the communities are not doing enough to lend a hand.
“We need to be supporting more initiatives like Hope Street soup kitchen in Green Point and Souper Troopers, among others. There are not enough beds at shelters in this city, so to say people should only give to shelters makes no sense to me,” she said.
Ms Jacobson said one of the big issues they face is that they have no community centres in Sea Point.
She said the Sea Point civic centre is an under-utilised space and the City demands that citizens pay to rent it.
“Why aren’t we utilising it to give people shelter in winter? Community centres should be free to use if they are being used for the good of the community.”
She said the community needs to start working across wards and civic associations. A group needs to create a vegetable garden in the empty park next to Pinocchio School in Green Point, where Hope Street currently run their soup kitchen on a Saturday morning.
She said they could be growing vegetables in these spaces, which could then have the dual benefit of providing both food and employment for unemployed people who want to get involved.
“The other initiative I’d like to see up and running is a locker system for homeless people to lock up their belongings. Many have their belongings stolen or confiscated by the police, so they lose their warm clothing and can’t afford to replace it. I’d like to see the community mobilise to get the space next to the Sea Point pool, currently being leased by Friends of the Sea Point Pool, renovated and made fit for human use. My futile attempts to get the City to make this space available, have led to me being convinced that the City isn’t interested in helping residents find solutions to the social issues in our areas. The City should be doing everything in its power to convert under-utilised spaces into housing. Instead, all of these places I’ve mentioned, including Tafelberg School, remain empty while people who are homeless freeze to death and those that live in Sea Point flats’ storerooms face an uncertain future of eviction and homelessness,” she said.
Sea Point police spokesperson, Captain Elizabeth Munro, confirmed the death but said they cannot say that it was caused by winter colds.
“The body was taken to the mortuary and a post-mortem will determine the cause of death,” she said.