Table View residents are divided over whether to give handouts directly to the needy or to charity organisations.
The Table View Community Clean Up Facebook page posted a video showing people selling clothes and other items on the side of the road. One of the page’s admins, Wendy Robertson, captioned the video with this comment: “Your handouts become illegal trading that requires the attention of the law. When will this community stop giving so irresponsibly? All of this could have gone to organisations within our community. You are not helping by giving – you are enabling.”
While there are some who agree that giving to organisations rather than individuals is the best way to go, others say people are just trying to make a living in tough times.
Ms Robertson’s post was shared to the Tabletalk Facebook page, and in the comments section, Lucia Fouche wrote: “And there we go again… Blaming… Do you know how many people buy at legal charity shops and then resell with a bit of a mark-up, to make ends meet, on the streets? So, please, don’t generalise.”
Julian Sendin said people were simply trying to find a source of income.
“Collecting goods, freely given from one place where they have no value and displaying and selling for a margin at another location and to people for whom it has value, is value adding. It’s called thrifting, and it is an enormous sector across the globe,” he said.
The people on the other side of the debate say these illegal traders leave the area looking messy, and that this can ultimately make it less safe.
Marie Ackerman said she feared for her safety when driving through Table View.
“There are just too many people standing at robots and other intersections, trying to sell you things. This becomes dangerous because we can easily become victims of smash and grabs like we’ve seen on the R27 near Paddocks. Our neighbourhood also looks dirty with amounts of rubbish left by some of these informal traders,” she said.
Ms Robertson told Tabletalk that she understood that people wanted to make a living, but she questioned whether those who gave things away were going about it the right way.
“We know people have issues with drugs and alcohol. We need to ask ourselves if we are helping people feed themselves or are we helping feed their addictions. This is why it is important to donate things like food, clothes, baby things, appliances, etc. There are factors of health and hygiene because the people trading in these spots urinate on people’s walls. There’s a matter of security breaches. But, above all of this, it is illegal to trade in some of these areas, and this is going against the by-laws.”
The City of Cape Town runs an initiative called Give Dignity, which, it says, stresses the importance of giving those in need, particularly the homeless, a hand-up rather than a handout.
Mayor Dan Plato said handouts, while good intentioned, created a dependency that made it harder for homeless people to get off the streets.
“We need to end the cycle of dependence on direct handouts, such as cash, tents and other items, and we can only do that by giving responsibly. A more sustainable way to help them is instead to donate to the City’s Give Dignity Campaign which offers a sustainable solution of reintegration and opportunity,” he said.