Homeless rejected – Inhuman or fair?

“I could save my ID, but they took my food.”

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The Bulletin Newspaper

Some homeless people were left with the wet clothes on their bodies while others lost their last meal when authorities swept through Secunda conducting Operation Fiela on Thursday.
Operation Fiela originally had several goals, one of them being to remove homeless people from the street after CBD business employees were allegedly threatened with rape and assault by some of them. One of the vagrants, whose possessions were confiscated, was apparently arrested for house-breaking previously. Why he is on the street again is unclear.
Several departments, including GMM Compliance and Law Enforcement, GMM Waste Management, GMM Traffic Department and Home Affairs took part in the operation which started by them splitting into groups and firstly moving into CBD from various angles. No mercy was shown and authorities and vagrants fought about blankets and tents. The situation in CBD is dire, with vagrants excreting and sleeping on pavements, a few meters from where businesses are trying to operate.
“The operation is a collaborative and integrated approach to stem out lawlessness in the Secunda CBD. It is thus a direct response to the flagrant disregard of applicable legislations,” a statement read.
Fiela was also aimed at the search for and seizure of illegal items. In the CBD a vagrant was found with a special nail clipper, suspectedly stolen from a salon near the post office.
Another goal was the “issuing of notices and the impoundment of goods for non-compliance,” according to the statement. But one homeless man, the 36 year old Quinton Hendriks, said that he never got a notice. “They took everything.” Quinton was clearly in shock when the fleet of police cars and municipal vehicles stopped behind Shell garage and started grabbing his things. He initially fought back, but later let go. “This drives you to other things,” he said, fighting the tears. “I could save my ID, but they took my food.”
The removal of waste was also part of the original plans. The statement said “some waste of which is used to commit illegal acts.” It is unclear what waste the statement was talking about because what is waste for one may be someone else’s most prized possession. The boxes and rubbish is still lying around and drug dealers are most probably still roaming the streets.
Choppies supermarket was the only supermarket that went along to retrieve their trolleys. The statement said that illegal immigrants would be tackled. “Home Affairs are to assist with the tracing and identification of undocumented immigrants and the verification of resident status, among other,” the statement read. One of the plans was to trace their families but how this will be done with some of them losing their ID’s in the process, is an open question.
“My Identity Document is in my bag, they won’t let me get it,” one woman said while clinging onto her dog. She didn’t want to be named and later walked away with the dog, leaving her soaking wet husband/partner to deal with the crowd. “They took my blankets, they took all I had left to keep warm and they left me with the clothes on my body,” he said. He also didn’t want to be named.
Drug peddling and dealing was also on the bucket list, but not much attention was given to this. Needles used for getting high on Nyope, was confiscated in the part of the taxi rank that was raided. The taxi rank is apparently a well known drug dealing spot, but only part of it was raided.
“It is acknowledged that homelessness is not a crime, however, erection of makeshift structures, pollution of the CBD, sleeping on pavements and thereby obstructing the movement of pedestrians and the blocking of entry into shops is forbidden.”
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“It should be noted that the process to arrange alternative place of safety for some of the Secunda “homeless” people started in 2017. That process is ongoing. GMM is again engaging other stakeholders such as the Centre of Hope Church. The church offer accommodation and various support options for homeless people. The service is offered with a view to helping homeless off the street and linking them with their families.” Once again it is unknown who counts under “some of the Secunda homeless people” and how ID-less people will be linked to their families.
The homeless got told straight that “the people don’t want you here” and that they must get out of Secunda. “They don’t want to go to the church because then they have to adhere to rules,” the head of GMM Law Enforcement said. But several homeless confirmed that they were never given the option to go to the church and they didn’t even know about it. Nombulelo Radebe, a resident,said: “These people are not homeless, they run away from home because of drugs. It’s easy talking about sympathy when you are not being abused daily, we face this traumatic acts daily and some people just want to come here and act all Godly while they do nothing to help, talk is cheap.”
“It is inhuman. I can’t understand how someone can be so heartless, it is raining, it is cold. Where must I go? We are all being kicked like dogs because some of the homeless people can’t behave,” Quinton said.
Other slogans like “you don’t care about your own people” and “I hope you can sleep tonight in your warm bed” was thrown at authorities who ruthlessly went on, focusing on the homeless and forgetting the rest of the goals of this operation.
Comment on social media is divided with some congratulating authorities on a job well done and others criticising authorities for conducting the operation in rainy weather, a day after human rights day. Omar Beukes said: “They are not dogs and the worst part is that it is a cold, rainy day. **** Human Rights Day, I wish that those involved suffer the same faith one day.”
Nirvana Kissoon, also a GMM resident, said: “Wow, our communities are so quick to remove people like trash…..but the actual trash lying all over the streets and shopping areas don’t get removed. Why don’t we remove the drug dealers from the taxi ranks instead of enabling them? We have become so evolved as a species that we even believe we have the right to judge and then we take justice on the homeless? What is compassion? Secunda does not have it but our churches are full.
Some feel it is fair, others don’t. Everyone has got a valid point. Yes, Secunda does have a drug problem. There are lots of break-ins, refuge does lie in residential areas for up to five weeks and some people are allowed to overstep by-law boundaries with no consequences. But with bigger problems at hand, there are being focused on the homeless. Is it because all of them create problems or has it just become too easy to get rid of inconveniences and make them easy targets or are GMM, law enforcement and some business owners and residents’ actions and feelings fair?“It should be noted that the process to arrange alternative place of safety for some of the Secunda “homeless” people started in 2017. That process is ongoing. GMM is again engaging other stakeholders such as the Centre of Hope Church. The church offer accommodation and various support options for homeless people. The service is offered with a view to helping homeless off the street and linking them with their families.” Once again it is unknown who counts under “some of the Secunda homeless people” and how ID-less people will be linked to their families.
The homeless got told straight that “the people don’t want you here” and that they must get out of Secunda. “They don’t want to go to the church because then they have to adhere to rules,” the head of GMM Law Enforcement said. But several homeless confirmed that they were never given the option to go to the church and they didn’t even know about it. Nombulelo Radebe, a resident,said: “These people are not homeless, they run away from home because of drugs. It’s easy talking about sympathy when you are not being abused daily, we face this traumatic acts daily and some people just want to come here and act all Godly while they do nothing to help, talk is cheap.”
“It is inhuman. I can’t understand how someone can be so heartless, it is raining, it is cold. Where must I go? We are all being kicked like dogs because some of the homeless people can’t behave,” Quinton said.
Other slogans like “you don’t care about your own people” and “I hope you can sleep tonight in your warm bed” was thrown at authorities who ruthlessly went on, focusing on the homeless and forgetting the rest of the goals of this operation.
Comment on social media is divided with some congratulating authorities on a job well done and others criticising authorities for conducting the operation in rainy weather, a day after human rights day. Omar Beukes said: “They are not dogs and the worst part is that it is a cold, rainy day. **** Human Rights Day, I wish that those involved suffer the same faith one day.”
Nirvana Kissoon, also a GMM resident, said: “Wow, our communities are so quick to remove people like trash…..but the actual trash lying all over the streets and shopping areas don’t get removed. Why don’t we remove the drug dealers from the taxi ranks instead of enabling them? We have become so evolved as a species that we even believe we have the right to judge and then we take justice on the homeless? What is compassion? Secunda does not have it but our churches are full.
Some feel it is fair, others don’t. Everyone has got a valid point. Yes, Secunda does have a drug problem. There are lots of break-ins, refuge does lie in residential areas for up to five weeks and some people are allowed to overstep by-law boundaries with no consequences. But with bigger problems at hand, there are being focused on the homeless. Is it because all of them create problems or has it just become too easy to get rid of inconveniences and make them easy targets or are GMM, law enforcement and some business owners and residents’ actions and feelings fair?

The Bulletin Newspaper
One of the homeless, Quinton Diederiks, fighting police for his tent.
The Bulletin Newspaper
This is what an area in Secunda CBD looks like.

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