Coordinated effort needed to help homeless

Johann Kikillus, director Soteria Ministries, Fish Hoek

Two years ago, I held a public talk in Fish Hoek regarding the homeless issue.

Back then there were roughly 60 to 70 living on the streets. I am uncertain of the current numbers, but there are definitely far more people living on the streets today. It isn’t just Fish Hoek that is battling with homelessness, the entire Cape Town metropole has seen a huge increase due to Covid-19.

There are two issues that need to be raised: firstly, no person should be living on the streets and every effort must be made to assist them in putting their lives back together again. This is especially with women and children who become targets and deal with horrendous abuse. The same goes for homeless people with mental health issues who face daily bullying and abuse.

The second issue is that of addiction. Every day, I witness many of our local homeless persons either drinking alcohol or using drugs. They often pass out in public areas and we have witnessed numerous fights break out. All addicts need specialised help. We will never see positive outcomes if we simply feed addicts and hand them money. That merely enables them to continue their downward spiral.

I was very pleased to hear that U-Turn has finally come to Fish Hoek. In order for their projects to be successful, they will need the support of businesses, the public and other organisations. It is vitally important that all residents of the far south follow the same plan to assist our homeless.

Firstly, don’t hand out money, but rather purchase U-Turn vouchers. Secondly, encourage homeless persons to seek assistance from U-Turn directly. Lastly, neighbourhood watches and law-enforcement officers must not tolerate public drinking and anti-social behaviour. Repeat offenders must be put in a programme.

U-Turn is launching officially on Tuesday August 23 at Fullies Church at 6pm. I encourage all neighbourhood watch groups, ratepayers and business owners to attend.

Summer is around the corner and if we do not grab this opportunity, then we will see this challenge continue to mushroom.