‘Don’t support beggars’ – SAPS

A beggar is seen plying his trade along Van Buuren Road in Bedfordview.

The Bedfordview SAPS has called on motorists and residents to refrain from giving money to beggars at intersections.

This comes after three men were arrested in connection to two crimes in the area over the past week.

The spokesperson for the Bedfordview SAPS, Warrant Officer Mduduzi Nhlabathi, said the men were arrested for different crimes.

“Two of them were arrested in connection with the rape of a 17-year-old girl, while one was nabbed for robbing and stabbing a woman,” said W/O Nhlabathi.

He said both crimes took place along Boeing Road West.

“It is important for our residents to note that these beggars will not leave our area as long as they are still getting money from members of the community. One of the main solutions to getting rid of beggars is to stop giving them a reason to come back. Stop giving money to beggars,” said W/O Nhlabathi.

Chairperson for Bedfordview Community Police Forum (BCPF), Mr Gavin Henry said it is not often that Bedfordview has to deal with rape.

“It turns out that the [suspects] are two well known beggars who usually stand on Nicol Road. Those who continue to support beggars can make of this whatever they wish,” said Mr Henry.

In 2015, the BCPF, SAPS and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) called on residents to stop giving money to beggars.

An initiative was also launched by some residents to ensure donations are channelled to organisations that support homeless people.

“When you give money to a beggar on the street, you are not just feeding their addiction. You are also giving them a reason to stay in the area. You are creating a market for them,” said Ms Cherri-Lyn Croucamp at the time.

Ms Croucamp and Mr Leon de Bruin have been the driving forces behind the initiative and also the voice calling for action against the support given to beggars at intersections.

W/O Nhlabathi said detectives also arrested two other men for possession of dangerous weapons and suspected stolen goods, while on an observing assignment along the N3 highway.

“These men are homeless people and were in possession of women’s jewellery and knives,” he said.

One of the knives found in possession of one suspect was stained with what looks like blood.

W/O Nhlabathi said a further investigation was underway, as the investigating officer W/O William Madisha was confident that they can be linked to other crimes.

He said residents who continue to support beggars can be regarded as accomplices to the crimes committed by the beggars.

“We can’t, as law enforcement officers, keep quiet when we are working on ridding the area of beggars and some members of our community keep giving them a reason to be back. We rely on our residents to do the right thing,” he said.

W/O Nhlabathi said beggars also get involved in territorial wars.

“In these fights they can even kill each other, as we have seen in some instances,” said W/O Nhlabathi.

EMPD Chief Superintendent Bob Motshabi said his department will not win the fight against beggars and hawkers as long as residents and motorists continue to support them.

“We always remove them, but after the officers leave, they go back. One beggar for instance, was given a R200 note by a female motorist around Bedfordview central. It is clear that this person will come back for more,” said Chief Supt Motshabi.

W/O Nhlabathi said the SAPS often takes beggars to the police station for profiling.

“This we do in order to check whether or not they are linked to any criminal activities,” he said.

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