Forum discuss Goodwood’s ‘filthy’ state

Homeless people and those in need wait for food from a Goodwood church to be delivered.

A large part of the Goodwood Community Police Forum (CPF) sub-forum meeting last week was spent discussing the “state” of Goodwood and the presence of homeless people in the suburb.

A resident told the meeting on Monday April 10 that Goodwood was “going to the dogs” and the decay would eventually be “unstoppable”. He used Summer Greens as an example of a neighbourhood that had got it right.

“Goodwood is filthy. Vasco Boulevard is filthy. What are we doing wrong? If you go to Summer Greens, the streets are clean,” he said.

Other residents agreed and questioned why people from elsewhere came to feed homeless people in Goodwood.

Another resident said those feeding the homeless should have their vehicles photographed and licence-plate numbers recorded.

Resident Mark Raciet questioned why someone from Milnerton would feed homeless people in Goodwood: “Why bring it in front of someone else’s house? Are there no vagrants in Milnerton? Go take it and do it in front of Elim (night shelter),” he said.

Mr Raciet said one man giving food to homeless people had been approached and told, “We’ll bring these guys to your house to feed them there. Because no one wants it close to their homes.”

Sector 1 chairwoman Selaelo Arendse said a city-wide strategy was needed to tackle homelessness. “Next year we’re going to sit here and talk about the same thing. It’s not just a Goodwood problem. It’s all over Cape Town. Local government should come up with solutions,” she said.

Resident Johan Nel said he had been involved in the establishment of Goodwood Neighbourhood Watch, and in 2006 they had done an informal survey that found there were 84 people on the streets. Goodwood was seen as a safe haven for people down on their luck.

“If we think 30 of us can come up with a plan to deal with this, it’s not going to work,” he warned.

“I thought this is a place where we beat up vagrants with baseball bats. So why are they here?” replied Mr Raciet, to applause, in apparent reference to a Northern News story last month (“Homeless people beaten,” March 22) in which Goodwood CPF chairwoman Lee Jepson warned security firms and neighbourhood watch patrollers not to assault people living on the streets.

Goodwood Ratepayers’ Association chairman Brian Lawson said residents should not give to beggars. “If that continues, do you think they’re going to stay?”

Ward councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg responded to a complaint about men on the street corners looking for work, saying it was difficult to remove them.

“The loitering by-law doesn’t exist anymore. If you issue a compliance notice, they don’t have an address, so what do you do then?”

She said the City of Cape Town was not in favour of residents feeding people living on the streets.

The City’s Give Responsibly campaign encourages residents to go through established charities to help the homeless. Giving hand-outs on the streets only encourages people to stay there, the City argues.

Ms Janse van Rensburg said the Give Responsibly campaign was setting up a pilot “safe space” in Bellville where homeless people would be able to overnight. If that project was successful, it could be rolled out elsewhere.

Ms Janse van Rensburg suggested that the City’s social development and early childhood development directorate facilitate meetings between residents and the homeless.

Angelique Snyders, a spokesperson for the homeless on Vasco Boulevard, said they understood the frustration of businesses across the road. The homeless in the area tried to pack up before 9am to make the area look better, she said.

She attends monthly meetings with the social development directorate.

When Northern News visited the area on Wednesday April 12, a law enforcement vehicle had stopped there. Homeless people said the officers had warned them to clean up or their possessions would be confiscated.