In hot water for homeless rant

Ward 54 councillor Shayne Ramsay.

Ward 54 councillor, Shayne Ramsay, faced a backlash on social media after she posted comments about homeless people in Sea Point, to which many took offence.

The post, which was subsequently deleted, said if residents stop giving to beggars, street people and car guards “they will move elsewhere”.

She wrote: “Furthermore, our garbage bins are treated as buffet tables. Please don’t put your bins out the night before only when you hear the truck in the vicinity”, and organised a March Against Grime which was planned for Tuesday December 6 but has since been cancelled.

Ms Ramsay was elected ward councillor during the local government elections in August, so she has been in office for over three months.

The post, which she made on her Facebook page, was edited before she eventually deleted it. However, screenshots of the post have been shared on several social media platforms, including Twitter.

The DA have confirmed that the matter is under investigation.

Vusumzei Gqwethu, who has been living on the streets in Sea Point for four years, said the comments were disturbing and that it was wrong to profile a group of people.

George Smith, who has been living on the streets for about 20 years, said their life was already hard enough and that they were often harassed and threatened by private security.

Daniel van Zyle, who ended up on the streets after being robbed of all his belongings when he came to Cape Town looking for a job, said the comments were hurtful. “I haven’t been on the streets for very long but people look down on you. It is not nice not to have a place to stay. I had enough money to stay in a backpackers for a few months while I was looking for work. But when I was robbed I was left with the clothes on my back.”

One man who had asked only to be identified as Jimmy, said he had been on the streets on and off for a year after losing his job in promotions.

On Ms Ramsay’s comments, he said: “I am not surprised at all, I’ve heard people talking like that. She needs to understand the circumstances of how people end up on the streets. We are not all criminals. I have never been to jail and don’t have any criminal record. How many times have we seen people make comments like that in this country? It is clear that she that she does not know what suffering is and was born with a silver spoon in her mouth.”

Hassan Khan, CEO of the Haven Night Shelter, described Ms Ramsay’s comments as disturbing, noting that “My personal view is that she should apologise and resign.”

Mr Khan said he would be discussing Ms Ramsay’s comments with Greg Andrews, convener of the Street People’s Forum, who said in a statement: “Ramsay represents an all too common version of our humanity in Cape Town. Daily operations by Law Enforcement, and other security cluster organisations, continue to harass and violate the rights of street-based people.

“The City’s stated policy of ‘making the streets uncomfortable’ remains unchanged. “Our policies, leaders and businesses want to see a quick fix solution to the ‘problem’ of street-based people, a little jab to cure the pain. “There are innumerable street-based people who contribute to our society as functional parts of our communities. There are projects that are making a real, measurable difference at a fraction of the cost of the ineffective punitive measures the City continue to employ.”

While, when contacted by Atlantic Sun for comment, Ms Ramsay said she was not allowed to speak to the media on the matter, she had earlier apologised via a Facebook post: “I unreservedly apologise to everyone I offended, particularly the homeless South Africans in Cape Town. The march planned is now cancelled. I would like to state my post is not a reflection of the values of the City of Cape Town or the party I represent, the DA.I believe that we have to create jobs and equip homeless residents with skills so that every person is able to pursue a life they value and that we should care for the most vulnerable in our society.”

DA Western Cape media manager Anneke Scheepers, re-iterated that Ms Ramsay’s comments did not represent the views of the party. “The DA did not sanction Councillor Ramsay’s comments and her comments do not represent the views of the DA. The mayor has asked that the Speaker in the Cape Town Council investigate the remarks made by Councillor Ramsay,” she said.

On Monday November 28, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, took to social media, saying: “Shayne Ramsay’s comments do not represent the DA, our values and policies. Action is being taken by the relevant structures.”