Problems in the village

Homeless people sleep under the verandah at Clareinch Post Office in Claremont.

Harfield residents are looking for an amicable solution to address homelessness in the area, especially after a group of homeless people have been accused of using an outside wall as a public toilet.

The group defecate on the corner of Second Avenue, Harfield, outside the Telkom building, while taking shelter under the Clareinch post office entrance.

James Fernie, chairperson of Harfield Village Association(HVA), said they had spent considerable time and money cleaning and greening the area in Second Avenue next to Telkom and the post office but homeless people are defecating and dumping large amounts of litter there. “The HVA recently had a private contractor clean the area, they complained about the enormous amount of faeces that they had to clear away and are not prepared to clean the area again,” said Mr Fernie.

Chairperson of Friends of Harfield Parks (FOHP), Francine Dieckmann, has proposed a redesign of the space. “At present, it is an under-utilised area and could provide much-needed parking and public toilets,” she said.
Martie Gilchrist, South African Post Office spokesperson, said the post office is aware of the homeless people who sleep under the verandah at the Clareinch post office.

“Meetings were held with both the Claremont police and the local councillor and the situation has improved since,” said Ms Gilchrist.

When the Tatler visited the scene, we found faeces on the pavement outside the Telkom building.

Ward councillor Sharon Cottle said this is a hot spot that requires regular cleaning. “All complaints are logged with the solid waste department to clean up the area. As the ward councillor I can vouch that whenever we logged the request for cleaning, solid waste has responded,” she said.

The homeless also frequent Hamstead Park, Prince’s Park, Surrey Park and Purley Park, which is the only park that has public toilet facilities. The toilet is open from 8.30am until 4pm.

Ms Dieckmann said the parks are well-used by residents and serve to make the area attractive to visitors and residents alike. Ms Dieckmann said homeless people use the parks for a place of socialising and a means to get access to food and clothing.

“The lack of public facilities and alternative spaces for the street people result in the parks and pavements having to be constantly cleaned and maintained,” said Ms Dieckmann.

The Tatler also saw empty alcohol bottles in Hamstead Park.

Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town, Luthando Tyhalibongo, said the City’s recreation and parks department cleans all public parks on a weekly basis.

“Staff have been specifically requested to pay special attention to cleaning and disinfecting the areas that have been identified to have a problem with human waste,” said Mr Tyhalibongo.

He also said the department will also ensure that sections of Hamstead Park, Prince’s Park and Surrey Park that have overgrown foliage, which is possibly being used for covering the waste, are trimmed down.

Mr Fernie said, “The HVA needs the City to take the lead on finding compassionate and inclusive solutions to these challenges, working hand in hand with passionate and dedicated civic associations like the HVA.”

Telkom declined to comment on the matter.

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