Street begging in South Africa is no longer strange as almost all the streets are littered with people parading themselves as beggars and wishing all who pass by, give them financial assistance.
However, report from that police warns all citizens to be careful because not all beggars are truly what we assumed they are.
The Bedfordview South African Police Service (SAPS) has called on motorists and residents to desist from giving money to beggars at intersections because report findings has proved that most who go about begging SA major streets are criminals
Bedfordview SAPS said this week that they believe that criminals posing as beggars are behind a recent spate of violent crimes in the area, including rape.
Bedfordview SAPS, Warrant Officer Mduduzi Nhlabathi confirmed this saying that the local police has recently arrested some who are linked to 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,” he said, adding that crimes took place along Boeing Road West.
“It is important for our residents to note that these people 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.
Nhlabathi went on to warn residents who continue to support beggars to refrain from doing so because their actions may make the police to regard them as accomplices to the crimes they commit.
“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.
Street begging has become the in-thing in south Africa following the increased unemployment. No matter where you go in South Africa, indigent people on the streets – men, women and children – are an inherent part of the cityscape.
The report from SARPS is closely related to that of Solidarity Helping Hand which was published in January, which also stated that “most beggars on the street are drug addicts”, putting that figure at as many as 80% to 90%.
Solidarity conducted a series of interviews in mid July, which were published in a body of work titled: White Beggars & Drug Dependence. There, they found out that 20% of the money beggars receive goes towards food, while the rest is spent on drugs.
EMPD Chief Superintendent Bob Motshabi further pointed out that 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 as this will help them check whether or not they are linked to any criminal activities.