Night shelter staff fear for their safety

Staff members at the Haven Night Shelter have raised concerns about the homeless who live in Napier Street.

Staff at The Haven Night Shelter in Napier Street, Green Point, say they are being intimated by a group of homeless people who have taken to squatting on the pavement outside their premises.

The night shelter provides temporary shelter, physical care, social welfare and family reunification services to homeless people in the province.

According to staff member Kevin Alexander, the shelter has tried to help this group but they have repeatedly declined their services.

“They choose to be on the pavement, but often hurl abuse and insults at our staff when we are unable to give in to their demands,” he said.

Mr Alexander said they are concerned because donors and sponsors fear for their safety as they are often harassed for money.

“Our fieldworker and one of our interns were threatened with a brick and a knife by two of the street people. There is a 10-year-old boy among the street people also harassing our donors, sponsors and guests as soon as they stop here,” said Mr Alexander.

He said this has been going on for a while and they’ve tried to get the City involved by reporting the matter.

He said the group were causing a health and safety hazard by urinating against the walls, and defecating and making fires on the pavement.

They are also accused of knocking nails into the building walls, anti-social behaviour such as drinking in public and swearing, and hanging their mats and washing on the shelter’s palisade fence.

The City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, and social services, JP Smith, said the City’s law enforcement; and social development and early childhood departments have conducted numerous operations in this area.

He said they have issued fines for obstruction of the pavement, in terms of the Streets, Public Places and the Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-law as well as compliance notices for littering.

He said the City’s agencies will continue with their regular operations in this and other areas.

“Law enforcement staff have also impounded some structural material that had been left abandoned.

“There have been a few instances where persons have been successfully relocated to the Culemborg Safe Space, with the assistance of the street people reintegration unit. However, the offers of assistance that are put to all street people are voluntary, and some continue to refuse these offers,” said Mr Smith.