Blue bag blunder

Geraldine Adams walking in the Main Road to collect recyclable rubbish from motorists.

Motorists have been urged not give recyclable rubbish or donations to people standing at traffic lights in the Kenilworth and Wynberg area.

Ward councillor Ian Iversen said he had had a lot of complaints from the public about homeless people standing in the middle of the road at the busy intersection of Wetton and Main roads.

Carrying blue municipal garbage bags, they were ostensibly there to collect recyclables from passing motorists, but Mr Iversen said the rubbish was all too often thrown on the road side when the bags were full.

Some of the homeless people had been seen putting the bags over their heads in an apparent effort to inhale drugs, said Dr Alison Madden, Kenilworth resident.

A resident recently photographed one such individual doing that.

The blue bags are used by the City of Cape Town street cleaners. They are also used to line municipal rubbish bins.

The Tatler met Geraldine Adams, a homeless woman from Strandfontein Village, at the busy intersection collecting rubbish and donations from motorists.

She said she took the blue bags from the municipal bins once they had been changed by cleaning staff in the morning.

She said once she had filled the bag she took it to JustJunk!, a junk removal and recycling company. A JustJunk! employee, who did not want to be named, said homeless people did bring glass, plastic and cardboard to their company for recycling, but they did not get paid to do so.

But Mr Iversen said that in most cases the rubbish motorists handed over, got tossed on the pavement or down a stormwater drain.

“While I appreciate that the motorists believe that they are assisting the homeless person, they are not.”

Dr Madden said it was important to distinguish between homeless people collecting rubbish in the bags and drug addicts using the bags to get high.

Many of the motorists going through the intersection were not from the area so were probably unaware of the problem they were causing, she said.

Not having people standing in the middle road, would solve part of the problem.

Richard Bosman, the City’s executive director for safety and security, said law enforcement could, depending on the situation,”confiscate the bags or make an arrest”.

Mr Iversen said: “The money given to a homeless person, all too often, is used to buy alcohol. It is far better to rather make a donation to an NGO that interacts with the homeless who can use those funds to provide appropriate services to the homeless”.