'I beg you: Stop the begging'

31 October 2014 - 09:19 By Penwell Dlamini
A street child. File photo.
A street child. File photo.

Next time you see a beggar at an intersection do not give him or her money. Actually, do not give them anything, even if they are children asking for a school donation.

This is a plea by Gauteng social development MEC Faith Mazibuko.

She told the portfolio committee on social development yesterday that her department was frustrated by beggars. She said the problem was escalating.

She told The Times afterwards that the first step in ending begging was for people to stop giving money to anyone on the streets.

"We do not want to see any child begging on the streets of Gauteng, whether as drum majorettes or traditional dancers. We understand that people need to fund-raise but let us find better ways to raise funds. There are rapists out there, paedophiles, serial killers who might do wrong things to the children [raising funds]."

Mazibuko said bylaws did not allow begging.

"We are appealing to members of the community to refrain from giving money to beggars. If you continue giving out money, you are the one sending the message that, in Gauteng, it is easy to make money without going to work."

Mazibuko said people should call her department for help when they come across someone begging.

"We have the SA Social Security Agency, social development offices and municipal offices where [they] can go and say: 'I need help.'

"We even have drop-in centres for children who go to bed hungry. We have nutrition centres, where even adults can go and have a decent meal and go home and sleep. We have food banks," she said.

Research conducted by Solidarity Helping Hand revealed last year that white beggars made an average of R172 a day on the streets.

The study, conducted in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, showed that 16% of beggars made less than R50 a day, while 7% said they made more than R500 a day.

Reader's views

Mbali Mahlangu: If they are removed from the roads then they should be provided with another way of making a living.

Thando Mashalaba: I feel that if I keep giving beggars money I am keeping them on the streets.

Philbert Chabedi Seheri: Beggars actually make a killing at robots - more money a day than we educated people do in piece jobs.

Tuelo Thomas Tukz:We have a Department of Social Services and pay taxes so the needy can get help.

Bronwyn May: Are we so heartless that we see people's suffering as a "nuisance"? What happened to "There but for the grace of God go I"?