• The SAPS held a special parade to welcome back Mr Bheki Cele as the Minister for Police. He had previously been the National Commissioner of the SAPS. Refer to article published on pp 44-45 of Servamus: April 2018.

    The SAPS held a special parade to welcome back Mr Bheki Cele as the Minister for Police. He had previously been the National Commissioner of the SAPS. Refer to article published on pp 44-45 of Servamus: April 2018.

  • The tragedy surrounding the murder of Jayde Panayiotou is discussed in this month’s crime series. Read about how Jayde’s murder was planned by her husband and the work done by the police investigators.

    The tragedy surrounding the murder of Jayde Panayiotou is discussed in this month’s crime series. Read about how Jayde’s murder was planned by her husband and the work done by the police investigators.

  • Following the Marikana tragedy in 2012, the Public Order Policing Units of the SAPS come under attack. A lot of work has been done ever since, including the launch of national reserve POP Units. We update you on the latest developments surrounding POP in Servamus: April 2018.

    Following the Marikana tragedy in 2012, the Public Order Policing Units of the SAPS come under attack. A lot of work has been done ever since, including the launch of national reserve POP Units. We update you on the latest developments surrounding POP in Servamus: April 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 - April 2018

When a disabled 52-year-old former soldier's wife died a couple of years ago, his 26-year-old brother-in-law moved into his house to take care of him.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
For many consumers, short-term insurance is a grudge expense, until that day when they are involved in a vehicle accident or they return home from work or holiday to find that they have been the victim of a burglary and they need to register a claim with their insurer.
By Annalise Kempen
There are no words to describe the shock when a man cold-bloodedly murders his wife, seemingly without motive.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Many adults have fond memories of their grandparents - visiting them during holidays, being treated with sweets or sitting on their laps listening to numerous stories.
By Annalise Kempen

Pollex - April 2018

The word supra refers to "a person who eats human flesh". According to recent media reports, arrests have been made "for the crime of cannibalism" (Afrikaans: "kannibalisme") and that those persons will "appear in court on charges of cannibalism".
Read More - Per Mr Lucky Shange in a news item that appeared in News 24 dated 17 February 2018
According to the news item referred to supra, the 40-year-old Mr Lucky Shange was arrested in 1998.
According to all indications, South Africa has, or is heading for a water crisis. As far as the Cape Peninsula in the Western Cape is concerned, the crisis is already upon its inhabitants.

Letters - April 2018

The article “A walk down memory lane - Paying tribute to a dedicated war hero” that was published in Servamus: March 2018 on pp 76-77, refers.
Ever thought about the impact of parents’ jobs on their children? This poem, written by W/O Johan Coetzer’s daughter, Megan, says so much, especially when one realises that she was only 13 years old when she wrote it.
April 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.