Hungry, cold and homeless, those who manage to gain some money throughout the day head to Shoprite in Sea Point, to buy something to eat.
However, the store which caters to low income shoppers has reportedly been turning the homeless away, leaving them to go hungry.
Reclaim the City chairperson, Sheila Madikana, called into the Atlantic Sun after witnessing the homeless being removed from the store while she addressed the store manager on the issue.
Ms Madikana said the situation with Shoprite is just as bad as the situation late last year when Ward 54 councillor, Shayne Ramsay, posted on Facebook, that homeless people in the area are criminals, mentally retarded and social outcasts (“In hot water for homeless rant”, Atlantic Sun, December 1, 2016).
Ms Madikana said that prejudice against the homeless was unacceptable and spoke to the manager at Shoprite about not allowing the homeless to purchase food inside the store.
“He said that it is his right not to allow the homeless to shop at the store. I said to him that this is not the law I know about and he said it is the law he knows.
“They want to buy food, Shoprite is the store where everyone can afford to buy. The manager at Shoprite is doing the same thing as the councillor in Sea Point who discriminated against people. But this won’t work with us as a community, we won’t tolerate it,” said Ms Madikana.
She said this is the first time that the homeless have been refused entry into the store which has served them long before when it was known as Grand Bazaar before Shoprite took over.
The increased presence of homeless people in Sea Point is a great concern to residents and is the highest reported issue in the area according to the Cape Town Central Improvement District (CCID) (“Homeless a top concern for residents”, Atlantic Sun June 22).
While telling the Atlantic Sun about the discrimination heaped on the homeless, a homeless man named Joseph had an epileptic seizure and collapsed on the pavement. Ms Madikana claims this was due to him not being able to buy food to get the nutrition he needs.
Joseph’s girlfriend, Shirley Arnolds, who has been on the streets in Sea Point for more than 27 years, said she was denied entry at Shoprite despite shopping there for years. “The manager knows us for a long time. Yesterday the manager was standing in front and said ‘put them out’. It’s been like this for weeks now and I’m tired of this now. I must send other people in to buy for me. Shoprite is my nice place; where must I go to now?” said Ms Arnolds.
Siphiwo Roxo, who has been living in the area for more than 20 years, said he was stopped by a security guard at the entrance of Shoprite and was told that he couldn’t enter. “Yesterday they told me that I could not go inside because the manager does not want me inside. I don’t steal, I buy, but yesterday I had to give someone else money to buy for me. At Pick * Pay I have no problem, but here, everyone who sleeps outside can’t go in,” said Mr Roxo.
Ms Madikana said she informed the manager that the homeless are forced to ask the security guard at the store to purchase goods on their behalf, but he allegedly responded by saying that if he finds a security guard helping the homeless, he’ll fire them.
In response to a request from the Atlantic Sun to respond to the claims that Shoprite Sea Point is denying the homeless entry to their store, the Shoprite media team responded in a staement, saying that Shoprite is obligated to take steps when customers’ comfort and shopping experiences are negatively affected by people loitering in stores, begging at doors and making a nuisance due to intoxication. “Shoprite welcomes all bona fide consumers in its stores, but Shoprite will investigate the matter with a view to ensure that the rights of all consumers visiting the store are protected.”