Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
5 minute read
8 Oct 2021
11:41 am

Being homeless in one of SA’s metros is hard work

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

From being harassed by police, to having their scant belongings confiscated, life is tough for South Africa's homeless.

One of Melville's homeless pulling a trolley of recyclables down Main Road. Picture: Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The homeless community of Melville, Johannesburg, comprises an eco-system of car guards, informal recycling collectors, beggars and informal traders. In some instances, the latter is a euphemism for petty drug dealing in mostly cannabis and scrapings of methamphetamine and glue and is often at the behest of drug lords living in far better circumstances than the desperate distributors at the end of the supply chain. Every morning on Main Street, dozens of men and a few women roll up their blankets, mattresses and everything they own into bundles that, through unwritten laws, are not disturbed until their owners return to...