Wandisile Bobotyane was just 14 when he started begging at Blaauwberg Road’s traffic lights.
The Dunoon teen’s mom was sick and he felt like his parents didn’t have time for him and didn’t care.
“I would stand at the robots, and on rainy days, I’d make R300. On Christmas Day, I would make R1 500, and I’d use this money to buy clothes and shoes so that I don’t look like someone who begs at the robots when I go back to my neighbourhood,” he said.
Today, Wandisile Bobotyane is 20 years old and studying travel and tourism at the College of Cape Town.
His life could have turned out very differently, he said, if he had not met Colleen Pietersen in 2014.
Ms Pietersen is the founder of TLC Outreach Project, a non-profit social-upliftment organisation. She enrolled Wandisile at Bloubergrant High School.
“My life took a turn for the better after that,” the young man said at a public meeting, called by the Greater Table View Action Forum (GTAF) at Sunningdale Primary School, last week, to discuss vagrancy and homelessness.
Craig Neethling, a Table View Community Police Forum member who does clean-ups and collects lost and stolen shopping trolleys, said it was the TLC approach to vagrancy and homelessness – the kind that had changed Wandisile’s life – that achieved results.
“Forcing vagrants and the homeless to move is not working as we often get them coming back in less than a day. I am a big supporter of what TLC is doing,” he said.
Table View CPF member Wendy Robertson said vagrants came from all over, including Atlantis, Ravensmead, Elsies River, often fleeing gang violence, drugs and poverty.
“While others might be leaving those places because of these social plights, there are many more that come here for financial gain because our people keep giving,” she said.
Looking at the 30-odd people who made it to the meeting – most of them from civic groups – Ward 107 councillor Nicky Rheeder said a handful of people couldn’t solve Table View’s social ills.“I know most of us in this room continue to work our butts off while others sit in front of their computers and moan on Facebook, criticising the work we do.”
Everyone needed to get involved if there was to be “real change” in the area.
Law enforcement’s Inspector Wayne Aldridge had said something similar at another poorly attended meeting a few weeks earlier (“Stop giving, residents told”, Tabletalk, Wednesday July 4).
GTAF chairwoman Karen Davis said she had hoped for a better attendance, as residents posted frequently on social media about homelessness and vagrancy.
“It is very disheartening to see this community, which we are trying to make a difference for, being so totally apathetic on the night,” she said.
“This occurs across the board; you see this at CPF meetings, DA meetings and other organisations’ meetings.”
TLC’s Bernie Kent said they helped people of all ages.
“We run various programmes, like the independent living programme, which focuses on youth at risk, ex-offenders and the homeless, for the purpose of re-integration into society and normal living.
“We also run an early childhood development programme and also visit Huis Zonnekus, a home for the aged, at least once a week.”
Everyone at the meeting agreed Table View might benefit from a shelter for the homeless.