Rude awakening for homeless man

"This is my home. They took all my valuables, so I have nothing - but I will stay here."

Where is the line drawn between keeping a town clean and infringing on the rights of others?

On May 30 the NEWS received a phone call from a panicked community member who said she had witnessed a homeless man being assaulted by security officers.

Also read: No policy to assist homeless

On the NEWS’ arrival at the address provided by the community member, a Mamba scooter guard and a few Edenvale City Improvement District monitors were standing to one side and the homeless man to the other.

The homeless man, Jannie Nieuwenhuys, alleged that some scooter guards had assaulted him. Some of his possessions, including his identity document and his CV were taken and placed into a trailer, hooked up to an ECID bakkie.

Soon after the NEWS arrived the scooter guards and ECID monitors drove off.

Jannie Nieuwenhuys said his pants were torn during the assault.

Nieuwenhuys’ possessions were in a trailer, filled with refuse, hooked up to the ECID bakkie and soon after the NEWS arrived, the scooter guard and ECID monitors drove away.

Nieuwenhuys said he has been living on the streets for about two months and is a qualified precision engineer.

“I was sleeping and was pepper-sprayed in the face. I didn’t know what was happening or if the people were criminals trying to rob me,” said Nieuwenhuys.


He said a guard started kicking him and he covered himself with a blanket to protect himself.

“The more I asked them to stop, the more they continued,” said Nieuwenhuys.

Also read: Policy to assist the homeless on the table

He said he often finds old items from residents’ rubbish which he repairs and sells to make some money.

Sitting on the pavement of Eight Avenue near the McDonald’s, Nieuwenhuys looks around.

“This is my home now. They took all my valuables so I have nothing but I have to stay here.”

Some of the items that were ‘cleaned up’ were given to Nieuwenhuys by the Khanyisa Trust

He is concerned that if he opens a case of assault there will be retaliation.

“This is the first incident I experienced but I know of other homeless people being assaulted,” said Nieuwenhuys.

Dipuo Tekana, the manager of Khanyisa Trust, said Nieuwenhuys regularly visits the Khanyisa Soup Kitchen.

Tekana said Nieuwenhuys is known for repairing old items and on one occasion he took a repaired kettle to Khanyisa.

Tekana said this was not the first complaint she has received from the homeless.

“Since the beginning of this year, I have received several similar complaints from the homeless. It is sad. You try to help someone and you work hard and then their possessions are broken or burned,” said Tekana.

She said not all vagrants and homeless people are criminals.

“The homeless are less likely to steal because they live in the area. If they do steal it will be food. If their items are taken and burned continuously they might turn to crime,” said Tekana.

A request for comment was sent to Kevin Norman, Mamba’s operations director and Jonathan Hendricks, Mamba’s managing director.

The request for comment was sent on June 7 with a request for response by June 9 at 2.30pm.

A second request was sent on June 9, requesting comment by June 13.

A third request for comment was sent on June 22 at 1.30pm, requesting comment by 3pm.

At the time of publication no comment had been received.

NEWS spreads the warmth in support of Khanyisa Soup Kitchen


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