• Although our paths regularly cross with those of homeless people, we seldom think about them as potential vulnerable victims of serious crime. Read more about the in-depth article about how they are affected from p 44 in Servamus: February 2018.

    Although our paths regularly cross with those of homeless people, we seldom think about them as potential vulnerable victims of serious crime. Read more about the in-depth article about how they are affected from p 44 in Servamus: February 2018.

  • Ever thought about the fact that those who are falsely accused of crime are also victims? We explore the impact of these false allegations on these victims and look at the trauma of serving time when you are innocent in an article published from p 28 in Servamus: February 2018.

    Ever thought about the fact that those who are falsely accused of crime are also victims? We explore the impact of these false allegations on these victims and look at the trauma of serving time when you are innocent in an article published from p 28 in Servamus: February 2018.

  • Members of Flying Squads often arrive first at crime scenes to confront dangerous criminals. This month we pay tribute to the hardworking heroes of the Johannesburg Flying Squad and introduce their commander. Refer to the article from p 50 in Servamus: February 2018.

    Members of Flying Squads often arrive first at crime scenes to confront dangerous criminals. This month we pay tribute to the hardworking heroes of the Johannesburg Flying Squad and introduce their commander. Refer to the article from p 50 in Servamus: February 2018.

  • Many victims of crime choose not to report the incident to the police. We explore the reasons why; find out whether it is a situation unique to South Africa and look at the consequence of non-reporting of crime in an article published from p 10 in Servamus: February 2018.

    Many victims of crime choose not to report the incident to the police. We explore the reasons why; find out whether it is a situation unique to South Africa and look at the consequence of non-reporting of crime in an article published from p 10 in Servamus: February 2018.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys
Selected photos by Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

People sleeping on sheets of cardboard under dirty old blankets on pavements or on dark park benches are a familiar sight when driving through the suburbs late at night. Their possessions often consist of a plastic bag containing clothes, a blanket and a few sheets of cardboard. They have become part of the urban landscape, so much so that we seldom pay much attention to them. But being homeless also means having no food, so we often see these people walking from one dustbin to another, looking for something to eat. Being without a home must be an incredibly difficult situation for anyone to be in, since our houses are our safe havens - irrespective of whether your house is a luxury home in a suburb or an informal shack in a township.

Homelessness is neither new, nor is it restricted to one country. For centuries, there have been homeless people and due to the inherently chaotic nature of many homeless people's lives, they are often victims (and perpetrators) of crime. Poverty and instability are common themes in the lives of those who do not have a (permanent) roof over their head.

Homelessness is a term with various meanings and can differ from country to country. It may be a temporary, periodic or permanent situation, but since there is no universal consensus on what homelessness means, it is difficult to get a workable definition.

The United Nations Statistical Division categorises homelessness into two broad groups namely:

  • primary homelessness, which includes living on streets or without a shelter or living quarters; and
  • secondary homelessness, which includes having no place of usual residence and moving frequently between various types of accommodation (including dwellings, shelters or other living quarters) as well as residing in long-term "transitional" shelters or similar arrangements for the homeless (www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Housing/ homelessness.pdf).

The Tshwane Homelessness Policy of 2013 defines street homeless people "as all those people who live on the streets (on pavements, under bridges, in bushes or next to rivers); who fall outside a viable social network of assistance; and who are therefore not able to provide themselves with shelter at a given time or place" (De Beer et al, 2015).

How big is the problem?
Despite the fact that we see homeless people almost daily, it is difficult to find any South African statistics about homeless people. The absence of reliable statistics about homeless people and their situation makes it difficult to understand and address the problem adequately and coherently. An earlier study on street homelessness in South Africa done by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) between 2006 and 2010 suggests that there may be between 100 000 and 200 000 street homeless people in South Africa's urban and rural districts which includes adults and children. In 2011, Statistics South Africa suggested that there are 6244 street homeless people in the City of Tshwane (De Beer et al, 2015). Capalandanda (2016) mentions that, according to a study which the HSRC published in June 2016, 1959 homeless people are sleeping on the streets in Durban, while 1974 are sleeping in shelters. According to the City of Cape Town's Social Development and Early Childhood Development Directorate's survey done in 2015, the city has 7383 homeless people, of whom 4862 live and sleep on the streets and 2521 sleep in shelters. The total figure for the homeless however excludes those living along the mountains because of the dangers that the City anticipated in running the survey there (Chiguvare and Gontsana, 2015).

Knowing how many people are living on the streets remains a matter of estimation since homeless people are always in transit, having no fixed address where they can be contacted for census purposes. The problem is not unique to South Africa, since only a few countries include homeless people in their census surveys (http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/bitstream/10539/1448/3/ 02Chapter2.pdf). Sadiki (2016) argues that the homeless population is constantly changing as more people become homeless, while some of those who were homeless return to some form of secure accommodation.

Causes of homelessness
Hill (2016) stresses that the causes of homelessness are multifaceted and complex. Current thinking is that the cause of homelessness is an interaction between individual and structural factors, including the presence or absence of a safety net. Sadiki (2016) argues that homelessness is the result of interaction between socio-structural causes and individual factors as well as a series of prolonged crises and mixed opportunities. One tends to think that it is only the poor who are homeless, but that is far from the truth as homelessness can and does happen to anyone.

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: February 2018. The rest of the article discusses the vulnerability of homeless people; that they are easy targets; the relationship between homeless people and law enforcement; and how municipalities deal with homeless people. To enquire how to obtain the rest of the article, contact Servamus’s offices at tel: (012) 345 4660 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

Servamus - February 2018

In high profile cases such as that of the Modimolle monster or Oscar Pistorius, the public heard, through the media, what impact the violent crime had on the victim and their families.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
People sleeping on sheets of cardboard under dirty old blankets on pavements or on dark park benches are a familiar sight when driving through the suburbs late at night.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
“You were wearing a low cut, short mini dress, what did you expect?” Those are often the first words a rape victim hears when she tells someone from whom she trusted to get support, after she was raped by a friend at a party.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
If you have been the victim of a property-related crime such as a housebreaking, stay in an urban area or have relatively easy access to a police station, chances are very good that you will report it to the police.
By Annalise Kempen

Pollex - February 2018

Read More - Solidarity [Trade Union] [on behalf of Sgt Armand] Gerber v SAPS and Others (C381/17) [2017] ZALCCT 36 (11 August 2017)*
This is a judgment of the Cape Town Labour Court which began when Sgt Gerber approached the court. Sgt Gerber suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a traumatic event in the course of his duty as a member of the SAPS.
Towards the end of 2017, various news agencies reported a story about a female university student from the Eastern Cape who mistakenly received a payment of R14 million instead of R1400 from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
Read More - S V Byleveld 2017 (1) SACR 218 (NWM)
“252A. Authority to make use of traps and undercover operations and admissibility of evidence so obtained
Read More - S V Masoanganye and Others 2015 (2) SACR 577 (NWM)
Five accused persons were convicted and sentenced by a single judge before the High Court in Mahikeng in the North West Province on charges of theft, all in respect of amounts stolen from the Guardian Fund (Afrikaans: “Voogdyfonds”).
Read More - S V Ramoba 2017 (2) SACR353 (SCA)
The accused, who was 33 years of age at the time of sentencing before the regional court in Tzaneen in Limpopo, was convicted on 12 very serious charges whereupon he and his co-accused, were each sentenced to an effective term of 52 years’ incarceration.
These Regulations appear as Government Notice No R 1138, in Government Gazette No 41203 dated 27 October 2017 (“the ‘new’ Regulations”).

Letters - February 2018

A former police member, Lt-Col Mathews Leballo, has since his retirement not forsaken the needs of vulnerable groups.
The management and staff of Evaton SAPS got to celebrate Christmas on 20 December 2017 with Christmas Carols. The event was blessed by the Provincial Head Office Chaplain Rev Mudau.
A lot of crimes have been committed in 2017 and previously and some of these offenders are regretful of committing criminal acts.
Brig N G (Natty) Govender enlisted into the South African Police with the intention of becoming a motor technician.
According to an article published in the Sunday Times at the end of 2017, the SAPS has splashed out on what are believed the most expensive bulletproof vests in the world.
February 2018 Magazine Cover

Servamus' Mission

Servamus is a community-based safety and security magazine for both members of the community as well as safety and security practitioners with the aim of increasing knowledge and sharing information, dedicated to improving their expertise, professionalism and service delivery standards. It promotes sound crime management practices, freedom of speech, education, training, information sharing and a networking platform.