Extend A Helping Hand. Not A Hand-Out!

CITY OF CAPE TOWN

24 NOVEMBER 2014

STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT, COUNCILLOR SUZETTE LITTLE

With the festive season upon us, I would like to issue an appeal to the public to refrain from giving hand-outs to people begging on the streets. In recent years we’ve noticed an increase in the number of beggars migrating to the city centre and other high traffic areas over the holiday season.

We want to reintegrate people who find themselves on the street by offering services and assistance to get them back on their feet in partnership with the private sector and non-governmental organisations. During the 2013/14 financial year, we assisted 1 325 street people in getting off the streets and accessing health and other services. We have doubled our budget and increased our staff complement to help even more people in this financial year and beyond, but we cannot compete with the lure of quick and easy hand-outs.

Not all of the individuals who beg at intersections and outside shopping malls are street people – some are known as day strollers and leave their homes specifically to collect hand-outs and then return to their communities at night or they sleep on the streets until the festive season winds down. Many of these individuals are children who, left to their own devices, are also subjecting themselves to potential danger by roaming the streets unattended.

Handing over money to a beggar at an intersection might give some people a sense of making a contribution, but the reality is that they are simply helping to perpetuate a cycle that we are working very hard to break. The R5 handed over to an individual will sustain them for only a short period. I need to impress upon the public that they cannot distance themselves from the consequence of such ad hoc monetary donations and that they are ultimately responsible for what happens with that money, whether it is used to fuel substance abuse or finds the receiver in a position where they become a target as a result of that donation.

However, a contribution in cash or kind to a registered organisation that is committed to the welfare of street people will make a much more positive impact on the lives of those who need it most. This is at the heart of the City’s Give Responsibly campaign, launched a few years ago. Alternatively, members of the public can make a R10 donation by texting the word ‘Give’ to 38802. There is also the option of giving street people a hand up by helping them secure employment or providing a meal for them and their family, if members of the public really want to make a difference.

In addition to the Give Responsibly campaign, the City of Cape Town will deploy a team of dedicated field workers over the festive season to assist with any street people-related matters, while 14 Local Networks of Care will be operational in various communities to deter migration to the streets. The City also has a dedicated Street People Call Centre on 0800 827 201.

Issued by: Integrated Strategic Communication, Branding and Marketing Department, City of Cape Town

Media enquiries: Councillor Suzette Little, Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 400 1218 or Cell: 073 321 5036, E-mail: suzette.little@capetown.gov.za (please always copy media.account@capetown.gov.za)

 

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