Give encouragement, not a cold shoulder

Don Oliver, Marina Da Gama

Your issue of Thursday March 31 carried a respectful letter from Johann Kikillus (“I want answers”) asking Sub-council 19 for an update on what is being done for the Fish Hoek homeless this winter. He said this had not been addressed in a previous letter, either. At the end of the letter you printed: “Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl declined to comment, saying Mr Kikillus knew the complexities of the situation.”

So that’s all right then. But it’s not all right.

Firstly, I read into the good councillor’s comment that she has found the complexities too much for her and she has given up. This is not in line with the passion expressed by the new mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis, who went in to his position with his sleeves already rolled up and already is making an impact. Maybe she should try to remember what her attitude was when she first stood for council. Her passion may have died.

Secondly, in the last few weeks, the local papers have carried wonderfully uplifting stories of Fish Hoek residents who have taken up the challenge to deal with the “complexities” of the local homeless by opening their homes to them and, with public support, providing them with food and shelter.

If that can be done on even a limited basis by volunteers, I believe Ms Kuhl could apply her mind and bring a seed of inspiration to council where with a genuine will to find a solution one may be found.

Either way, Mr Kikillus deserves encouragement, not a cold shoulder.

• Ward councillor Aimee Kuhl responds: The two-year national state of disaster and related economic impact have led to an unprecedented level of homelessness in the city – with many people sleeping in public places, including sidewalks, parks, road reserves, and under bridges.

I greatly appreciate the work the many organisations in the valley, such as The Net, Living Hope and My Father’s House, do to assist those in need. Unfortunately, there are also many posing as street people who in fact are not destitute but use this as an excuse to accost law-abiding citizens.

This makes helping those who want help increasingly difficult and dilutes the already limited resources. So the situation is very complex and often well-meaning citizens are enabling criminals instead of curbing homelessness.

I urge all residents to give responsibly and to not take it upon themselves to engage with individuals but to direct their well-meant support to registered organisations.

Anyone wishing to find out more about what the City is planning to do to assist those in need is welcome to email my office at Aimee.kuhl@capetown.gov.za and to comment on the draft budget for social interventions currently out for public participation.