Brothers and Sisters over Tourism

Hi Africa,

I feel so angry after hearing the tourism guy call in about the ‘vagrants’ – apart from my distaste of calling people ‘vagrants’, I find it so sad that a Cape Tonian who makes his living in the city by showing tourists around (people from other countries) seems to care so little about the people of our own city. It all sounds like ‘business savvy’ the way he describes it and he is just speaking the ‘usual’ kind of debate around homelessness. But my heart sank the more he spoke — the lack of empathy for people who have no homes astounds me, especially given our dark and unjust history.

He said he has to try and explain to his guests why ‘they’ are in the gardens and doing what they do … I hope he adds in the injustice that has come against people who often have ended up on the streets because of the slanted system that leans in favour of resourced/thus white people over centuries.

The ‘norm’ of talking about where we should remove homeless people to as if they are a nuisance, really bothers me. It is the general kind of assumption that some have more right to some places than others. I would love to interview each homeless person and find out their story and how the system has set them up for homelessness and marginalisation … and then talk about the problem again with people who have benefitted every step of the way.

Eish! And Cape Town being such an amazing city – yes, it is. But the news report before the discussion reminded me that there are old people and children literally dying because of the cold and wet in their homes. And to hear a privileged person (who simply represents the usual, normal kind of discussion and values – so its not about this one man particularly), speak about homeless Cape Tonians as if they are a wart to be removed, nearly drove me to tears this morning.

I am sure, I hope, I pray, we can do better – but the entitlement of the wealthy, privileged, resourced people in this city, makes me wonder how.

I value your show, as always.

Linda Martindale

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