Residents raise concerns over homeless ’invasion’

Residents are concerned over the increase of homeless people in Mouille Point.

Mouille Point residents have raised concerns about the increase in homeless people living near the Sea Point police station.

They say they feel threatened by some of the homeless people who have erected tents and made the council land their home.

Resident Sidney Sollinger said what started with five small tents had now “exploded” into a takeover of the area. “Their behaviour leaves much to be desired, utilising the area as their local rubbish dump,” she said.

She said the current situation was becoming out of hand and that more people were moving on to the land every day.

Another resident, Tatum Gurney said she also felt threatened. “They have made the area their home and new tents are erected on a daily basis. The situation is getting out of hand and something needs to be done to help everyone who is affected by this,” she said

Law Enforcement spokesperson, Wayne Dyason said the City’s Law Enforcement department regularly responded to complaints about anti-social behaviour related to street people.

He said the situation in the area in question was further complicated by the fact that the street people in the area were being sustained by members of the community and members of other communities who came in daily to feed people and donate tents, clothing, blankets and various other items to the persons who have gathered in this area.

“These actions have resulted in more people gathering, to be closer to the points of distribution,” he said.

He added that the Covid-19 lockdown regulations as well as several other legal issues had put limitations on what Law Enforcement staff could do.

“Once the State of Disaster is lifted, the City will re-evaluate its protocols in dealing with street people conducting themselves in a manner that is anti-social and in violation of City by-laws,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien said from a Social Development perspective, the City’s Street People Unit conducted regular outreach work in areas that were frequented by street people, with a view to helping them access social and other relevant services, and possibly reintegrating with their families and communities.

He said, however, that no one could be forced to accept assistance.

“In terms of handouts to street people, the City supports giving any person who needs it, a hand up. However, the indiscriminate handouts that have been prevalent for years now, and that have escalated during the national lockdown, only serve to fuel the problem, as is evident in many areas,” he said.

He added that this was worsened by the City’s limited ability to enforce its by-laws relating to public spaces due to the current litigation involving the Human Rights Commission. This court action, he said, had resulted in homeless people erecting permanent structures and to remain on the streets.

“We appeal to the public to please refrain from direct handouts, and to invest their time, effort and donations in registered shelters and NPOs instead who work with street people. A hot meal or an item of clothing will sustain an individual for a day or two, but it does not address their longer term needs and instead keeps them on the street,” he said.