Waiting spot bothers residents

Dirt thrown in a gutter alongside the road after a handout has taken place.

Good Samaritans trying to help those in need are inadvertently causing problems for those living where they hand out food and other donations.

So say residents who contacted Sentinel News, sharing their concerns on condition of anonymity.

They say that individuals and organisations have been handing out food and other necessities to those in need, at a four-way stop in Helgarde Avenue, Hout Bay, leading to an increase in the number of people hanging around there.

One resident explained that people would gather and sit around, waiting for the help to arrive.

“There are no toilets here, so where do you think they are going to relieve themselves? I am not against helping, it’s not about that, it’s just that this help is causing a whole new problem,” the resident said.

“This is a very sensitive matter because people might think we are against those in need. Some of these guys are frustrated and when we ask them nicely to refrain from doing things, they can get very aggressive.”

Another resident said she had contacted the City of Cape Town about the resultant littering, noise and loitering but had had no response.

The resident also claims to have had faeces in a bag thrown over her wall and an increase in the amount of dirt left behind after people were done eating their food.

“I would hope the end result would be to find a more appropriate gathering place for job seekers and those waiting for food,” the woman said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas suggested that to prevent the kind of issues residents were complaining about, those wanting to help should rather donate food to the many soup kitchens operating in the area.

“Residents are encouraged to donate directly to these feeding schemes who are doing excellent work in providing relief directly to those in need,” he said.

He added that enforcement could only provide a certain amount of relief, but said: “This must be complimented by giving responsibly to NGOs.”

When Sentinel News visited the site, there was no one handing out food, but there were a few people sitting around waiting.

Timothy Ndulani from Imizamo Yethu was among them. He was waiting for food or to be picked up for work, he said.

Mr Ndulani has been a painter for 32 years but work had dried up during lockdown.

“I sit here waiting for opportunities and if there are people giving out food, that is an opportunity. All these people want is help and I am not aware of any of the problems caused by the people sitting here,” he said.

He did, however, confirm sometimes many people gathered at the site, particularly around mid-month, when funds were low.

“Around pay time, end of the month, you won’t see many people standing here. There are quite a few, but not as much as when it’s in the middle of the month and nobody has money. Then we have lots of people standing here,” he said.

Nazley Sadan from Hout Bay, who hands out food parcels and who has been running a soup kitchen since before the lockdown, confirmed that the number of people who now gathered at the site, had increased.

“I had them all under control in the beginning. They all had to assemble at the Woodcutters for meals. I asked everybody nicely to co-operate,” she said.