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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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South Africa's World Cup poverty pretence

May 05 2010
homeless people are being forced off the streets to hide the nation‘s poverty

A surge of activity forcing homeless people off South African streets is underway in a move to hide the extent of poverty from World Cup fans. More than 800 rough sleepers and street children have been removed from Johannesburg so far and sent to remote settlements hundreds of miles away, reports the Daily Mirror.

Charity campaigners have attacked the move as a sham and a temporary measure which has done nothing for the long-term well-being of South Africa's homeless, according to the newspaper. Says Bill Rogers, who works with the homeless in Johannesburg, said: "Rather than help people permanently, the government's obvious intention is to release them back on the streets after the World Cup."

Warren Whitfield, of homeless charity Addiction Action, adds: "It's a cosmetic fix to create an impression of South Africa for football fans which is not real. We have huge problems with homelessness and that is what the world should see."

Johannesburg councillor Sipho Masigo was unrepentant. "Homelessness and begging are big problems in the city," he said. "You have to clean your house before you have guests. There is nothing wrong with that.

"The numbers of homeless are in the hundreds, leading up to thousands."


Earlier this month, the Evening Standard reported that the Metropolitan Police has been accused of "harassing" rough sleepers in London in a drive to clear the streets before the 2012 Olympic Games. These actions are similar to Operation Poncho, under which the 'welfare' of anyone sleeping rough in the City is checked. Dave Clarke, a trustee of the Simon Community in London, which has slammed these tactics, said: "We've [also] found Operation Poncho is still using unacceptable tactics such as waking people in the middle of the night to tell them about services and ordering people to move on. It amounts to harassment."