Thabazimbi: place of insane and retarded homeless?

Hennie Pauw

THABAZIMBI – A rumour is doing the round that a group of insane and/or retarded homeless people were dropped of in Thabazimbi recently.
Some locals might have noticed a naked man in the vicinity of the Thabazimbi Airfield. He was found by the police who manage to get him clothed, just to see him naked again a couple of days later.
Another retarded person has been “putting up house” in a stormwater pipe emptying into the Rooikuilspruit at the Hamerkop Street bridge. He presumably gets food from rummaging through black rubbish bags which left his “camp” covered in bottles and litter from rubbish bags. The stormwater pipe provided the perfect protection against the elements since it was blocked off  by corrugated iron about two meters from the exit and he made himself a comfortable bed from rubbish and a discarded duvet. For about a 20 m radius around his camp  the grass was burnt down presumable from a fire which got out of control.
A third report was received of a retarded or insane woman who was removed from the premises of a house in Blinkblaar Street where she slept a couple of nights. She was removed from the property by the police who sent her away to a place of safety.
According to  local representatives of the Department of Health and Social Development (DHSD) until recently they dealt with very few cases of homeless people, but this trend has been increasing over the last two years.
The current problem has to be addressed with the co-operation of the whole community, said Mavis Moloto and Sam Madela of DHSD. A homeless person’s whereabouts must be communicated to the DHSD which will locate him/her with the help of the police if necessary. As a temporary measure they must be accommodated in a shelter after which efforts will be made to reunite them with their families.
Unfortunately no place of safety or shelter exists in Thabazimbi and homeless people are normally transported to a centre in Bela Bela, called Exodus, until they are placed permanently.
According to Mavis and Sam there are homeless people who have been retrenched from, for example, mines and have become homeless as a result of losing their jobs. Currently no employment programmes exist locally, such as in Gauteng, by means of which homeless peole could be reintroduced into society.
The Department of Health and Social Development also appealed to churches, NGO’s (non government organizations) and charity organizations to help establish an infrastructure for the homeless in Thabazimbi. There is also always a need for food and clothes for these people.
Anybody who would like to report a homeless person to the Department can contact Mavis Moloto, social worker at the Department of Health and Social Development (Second Avenue, Thabazimbi), at (014) 777 1711/2 or on her cell at 084 724 4401.