A message from Johan van den Berg, Chairman of the Tableview CPF
Dear fellow community member
We have a growing number of people sleeping on our streets, living from our bins and surviving through handouts. This is not acceptable, as we see these very same people selling drugs to our children, jumping over our walls and stealing from our gardens and homes. They litter our parks and defecate in the greenbelts and we find their used tik-pipes in our playgrounds. Our children are no longer safe to walk the streets or play in the parks that we as ratepayers pay for.
When we confront these people about their anti-social behaviour we are intimidated with violence and are accused of being racists. We are however not heartless and attempt where we can to get them uplifted and integrated back into society. However, many of them choose the freedom of the streets. They do not want rules and regulations. They do not want to work for a living and have become accustomed to beg, scrounge around for a living and take what they can get.
There are a number of volunteer community organisations who try to assist them to find work and to put a roof over their heads, but it is a difficult road and I commend those people for the commitment and dedication they put into attempting this.
We should however not think that these people are responsible for all the crime in our area. There are many facets to crime. Our greatest enemies are those who drive expensive stolen vehicles, enter our area and break down our gates and front doors to ransack our homes. Those are not our concern in this communication, as they are ultimately the responsibility of our crime fighting organisations, such as SAPS.
Over the last two years I personally have been involved, through the Table View Neighbourhood Watch, in operations where we approach the homeless and engage with them to understand their respective situations, to assist them and bring them in contact with organisations that can assist them. I have also been involved in the Community Police Forum (CPF) clean-ups – where we pick up the garbage and litter these people leave behind. I have come to realise that there are a few constants that lie at the root of the problem:
- Most of the street people prefer to be where they are. Those who are not take the assistance that is offered to them and grab the opportunity for a better life.
- Our community is kind hearted, but by giving without an effort to help change their plight, is actually sustaining their living on the streets. We often give to the person because we feel guilty, or are emotionally intimidated, but it does not result in a change of the person or his situation. The hand out of money, a meal, clothes and other items make the person dependent on hand-outs and is a short-term solution. It is usually immediate gratification and he inevitably comes back for more.
- Many people have lost faith in NGOs and their use of well trusted funds. No one can deny that we are living in trying times in our country. However, I know of a number of organisations in our area who work closely with professionals to ensure that their dealings are professional and that their efforts bring change.
Since 2013 efforts have been made to engage with the Western Cape Department of Social Development, to obtain their support in running the Give Responsibly Campaign in Table View. We have finally succeeded and have already started with regular meetings to develop a plan and to role out a campaign. A joint venture has started which at present involves the following: City of Cape Town, The Table View Ratepayers Association, The Table View Community Police Forum, Table View Neighbourhood Watch, Parklands Neighbourhood Watch, The Western Cape Department of Social Development (Street People Programme), Street Committees, St Chad’s Anglican Church, TLC, Rainbow Star Child Safety, Hope Support Group and members of the public.
The main focus of the campaign is to educate the public about sustainable giving and to encourage them to support the organisations and public entities that exist that have the resources to assist those in need. We commend the people of Table View for their kind-heartedness and do not want to change it, but would encourage them to rather channel their donations (money or in kind) towards these organisations rather than the individual on the street. A list of registered NGOs that we know are making a change, is being drafted and will be circulated to the people to channel their well-earned and well-meaning contributions to.
Our campaign is being launched on 18 July – Mandela Day – and we call on anyone who would like to become involved to join us on that day to hand out training material and to promote our campaign. Our venue would be the street intersections in Table View. If you would like to become a Give Responsibly volunteer, forward your details to: firstname.lastname@example.org, before 11 June in order for us to do the necessary planning. Please state clearly whether you would like to assist on 18 July or if you can’t, but would like to make a contribution to the funding of the communication material let me know.
Kind regards and remember to Give Responsibly
Johan van den Berg