Stakeholders from the Bedfordview and Edenvale communities united and launched the #GiveResponsibly campaign.
This comes after Child Welfare SA- Edenvale – warned community members in the August 29 edition of the NEWS, that beggars often rent children to gain sympathy from the community.
The campaign hopes to educate community members about giving money responsibly and donating funds to established charities.
Also read: Do not give money to beggars – Child Welfare
It was launched by Child Welfare SA- Edenvale, Bedfordview Community Police Forum and the concerned residents.
BCPF member Leon de Bruin explained that there are three dynamics to begging.
He said the process consists of the giver (the community), the receiver (the beggar) and the reward (money).
“If we remove one of the three dynamics, there will be no problem,” said de Bruin.
He said beggars with children exploit them for financial benefits by playing on people’s emotions.
Vice-chairperson of Child Welfare SA – Edenvale, Nikki van der Walt said she believes people mean well when they give money to beggars.
“I think people see beggars with children and feel a sense of guilt,” said Van der Walt.
Bedfordview resident Sherri-Lyn Croucamp said the beggars do not use the same children at intersections.
She said as the children get older, they are replaced with younger children.
“People think the child welfare is not doing their job but their hands are tied to a large extent,” said Croucamp.
“Child welfare is doing what they can.”
Croucamp said children are sometimes abused by the beggars exploiting them.
Previously, she assisted a young child who had been beaten by a beggar.
Croucamp found the girl crying on the side of the road.
She took the girl to a police station, and then to her mother in Bez Valley where she learnt that they were from Zimbabwe.
Croucamp said the mother did not provide a reason why her daughter was begging with another person.
“I offered to personally pay for them to go back to Zimbabwe, but they did not seize the opportunity,” said an emotional Croucamp.
“The young girl was soon back on the street.”
De Bruin said when community members give donations of food and clothes they are sold or thrown away.
He added that some of the beggars use the money to buy drugs in Jules Street.
The senior social worker for Child Welfare SA – Edenvale Celeste Thies said the beggars are often foreign nationals or undocumented individuals.
“The South African government provides grants to its citizens. There should be no reason for them to beg,” she said.
Thies said the child welfare is unable to deal with undocumented individuals.
“The courts and children’s homes won’t deal with children who are undocumented.”