South Africa: These Are the Real Reasons People Become Homeless

Collins Jonas moved to South Africa in 2017 with a plan to help support his family in Malawi. He was fortunate enough to find a job as a panel beater, but one evening he was robbed of everything he had on him, including his passport.

The 28-year-old lost his job in December and soon his landlord evicted him.

"I couldn't afford to pay rent, so I started walking the streets," Jonas said.

He tried asking for help from fellow Malawians in the city, but all doors were shut.

"They told me everyone came here alone, there's nothing we can do," he recalled.

"My life was like hell. I was sleeping outside. Sometimes I'd sleep in the bush and sometimes in town on the street," he said.

The Haven Night Shelter CEO Hassan Khan said a single event, such as the breakdown of a relationship, often starts the chain of events.

Another client at The Haven, Chantel Fredericks, has been staying at the shelter for three months.

The 37-year-old from Bonteheuwel became homeless after her mother passed away. She arrived at their doorstep in Napier Street after months of battling with drugs and living on the streets with her two children.

"Things became hard and we began to fight," she said of the family situation.

Now Fredericks is undergoing counselling at the shelter and hopes to find a job to support her two daughters, aged five and nine.

"There's a lot of work here. It's helping me with a lot of things, especially trauma," she said.

Jonas and Fredericks are among the estimated 5 000 homeless people in the greater Cape Town area. According to statistics released by the Western Cape government in May, 700 of those are living in the central business district.

Jonas is hoping the Department of Social Development can assist him to get an identity document and passport. In the meantime, he is grateful for a safe place to spend his nights.

"At least now I have a roof over my head and can focus on looking for a job," he said.

Jonas hopes to one day have enough money to go home to see his family again.

"They don't know that I'm in this situation. Maybe they think I'm dead because I have no phone to communicate with them," he said.

"I just hope things are going to be right for me again."

Source: News24

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