“I sleep across from the taxi rank” – City of Joburg targets mothers and children in begging hostpots
A mother waves to a motorist at one of the intersections in Sandton, Johannesburg.
- The city of Johannesburg is evicting mothers who sit on the side of the road begging for money.
- The City says they violate its bylaws.
- There is speculation that the women are part of a syndicate that uses children as bait.
Mothers who sit on the side of the road begging for money or food have been evicted by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and the City of Johannesburg Social Development Department.
According to the JMPD, sitting next to public roads endangers their lives and contravenes municipal regulations.
But the mothers say the money they get from begging is their only form of income.
Amanda Sibanda, a 30-year-old Zimbabwean, is the mother of two young girls who have been begging for two years and has no other form of income to feed herself.
She told News24:
Sometimes I get a piece job while I’m sitting here…my child is six years old. She never went to a nursery because she needed the money. I barely earn 30 rands a day and I sleep opposite the taxi stand.
The idea of having to move caused her great distress as she worried about what her daughter was going to eat.
As her daughter played near nearby shops, she told News24 that she had given her second daughter to a woman in Mpumalanga and had no idea how she was being treated.
“My second born [daughter] 2nd grade and she lives with a woman I don’t know. She told me that if I received money, I should come and visit her. We went to the police station and she explained to the police that she wanted to take care of my daughter while I was trying to get my [affairs in order].”
“I don’t know if she’s being abused or not, but because I don’t have a plan, I saw it was the right thing to do and I put everything in God’s hands,” Sibanda said. .
As part of Operation Buya Mthetho on Tuesday, the JMPD along with social workers, the Human Rights Commission, the International Organization for Migration and social development officials ordered five mothers and five of their children to leave hot spots near intersections. .
A barefoot miner has approached News24 asking for money while his mother sits in blankets to keep warm.
News24 Alfonso Nqunjana
JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla said: “The main concern is that if there is an accident while they are sitting at this intersection, no one will be held responsible. It puts their lives at risk as they could be crushed.”
The city’s health and social development spokesman, Ewan Botha, added that many of the women who were approached at the start of the operation on June 10 were undocumented Zimbabweans.
During the simulation activities, it was discovered that all of these women are undocumented foreign nationals, the majority of whom are from Zimbabwe, followed by Mozambique, Malawi and one from Swaziland.
Botha added that there were fears that women would expose their children to many dangers.
“The common concern is that women use children to gain sympathy from passing motorists and other pedestrians. In the process, children are exposed to the dangers of being involved in motor vehicle accidents; disease, as the weather can be very cold in the winter; [and] a lack of educational stimulation,” Botha said.
Is it a union?
There is speculation on social media that the mothers are part of a syndicate that uses children to trick people into giving them money or food.
Thami Mpahlwa tweeted:
These children are praised. I can take [you] to a place where they are all collected and distributed accordingly.
But Botha told News24 that most of the women denied working for anyone and said they had taken taxis to the area from the bad downtown buildings they lived in.
A mother sitting outside a shop with her daughter in Randburg Square said begging was the only thing helping her to survive.
“It is alleged that these women are dropped off at intersections but when asked they claimed to come to these places by taxi. There are rumors that these women are part of a syndicate which hands children over to these women to be used as This is still a rumor that needs to be investigated by the relevant law enforcement agency.
“The City will pursue public and motorist outreach and education, and possible prosecution if the investigation provides evidence of a union,” Botha said.
A mother who sleeps in Randburg Square told News24 she knew nothing of the allegations and had never been paid to go begging in the area.
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