Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Begging and Theft
Today was P Day. Just got home. We came out of a movie called “A Million Colors” about South Africa and apartheid. We were the only ones in the theatre. Adjacent to the theatre was a pizza place. I ordered a small pepperoni. We hadn't eaten dinner. Got the pizza and hopped in the car. It was 10 p.m. Drove out of the parking lot on to the deserted street and stopped at the first traffic light which was red. A young boy about 11 or 12 years of age came begging to Diane's window. We carry packets of trail mix for such occasions. We gave him one and he started eating. The thought occurred to give him a piece of pizza but I blew it off thinking the light would turn green any moment and it did. There still was enough time to have given him a piece of pizza.
We came home. Diane wasn't hungry so I ate half the pizza and was full. I thought of that boy the whole time I was eating, increasingly feeling bad with each bite. I remembered what Stephen, David and Neil looked like when they were 11. They didn't have to stand at a street light and beg at 10 pm at night. As I gazed at that remaining half of the pizza I was remorseful. Why didn't I give the kid a piece of pizza? I should have given him the whole pizza. I didn't have to eat. I really wasn't that hungry. That kid was or he wouldn't have been begging at 10 pm at night. It's tough for some kids. You don 't always know their circumstances. But 10 p.m at night at a street light begging, a boy 11 or 12 years of age, hands clasped in the attitude of prayer -- I feel bad, but he feels much worse. I have something, he has nothing - only hope in the kindness of strangers.
The kids start young over here, some begging before the age of ten. By the time they are teenagers and have stayed with it, they are professional beggars. Hands clasped in the attitude of prayer, a nod of the head, and a slight dip at the knees is the customary manner of begging. I have seen begging every single day since being in Port Elizabeth. You see the same faces on the same street, the same look of anguish, the same begging attitude. This same form of begging we saw on our trip to south east Asia and in movies about India. Begging is a sad thing but undoubtedly typical in countries throughout the world. For some it is the only form of livelihood they know. In comparison, we have much to be thankful for.
Reply from Lilian Makaiau
Aloha Tom and Diane...what a story....I am not sure I can handle seeing all that you both are daily. I am sure that the next child who asks for food will be well rewarded based on your experience. All is well this way. Keep sending those stories and smile boxes! Much aloha! Lilian
Stealing - Article from the Port Elizabeth Press , May 2, 2012- "Residents fear 'alley is shortcut to hell'"
Ward 31 DA Councilor Penny Naidoo wants to warn residents and those who pass through the area of danger that lurks in the alley in Silver Oaks Street, Algoa Park. The alley leads to an open space.
The residents are complaining that they are being robbed and assaulted by criminals who hide behind the wall of the alley. This problem has been here for years and the attacks take place even in broad day-light. She added that the alley is not only posing a safety risk, it is also used for illegal dumping. The residents would like to have a meeting with the sector police and the CPF to address these issues, because there is zero police visibility in this are and they expect the police to patrol this vulnerable area.
A resident who lives close to the alley said that there are regular break-ins at his house. “The thugs who sit behind the wall also break into the nearby homes. I caught some of them red-handed in my garage, trying to steal from me. Something needs to be done immediately, because it cannot go on like this. The people who use this alley see it as a shortcut, but I say it’s nothing but a shortcut to hell,: the irate resident said.
Another resident said the robberies and assaults take place any time of the night or day. “From my house I can hear the women screaming when their bags are grabbed on their way to work. Even the school children are robbed of their cell phones and money. No one is safe when passing through there. I wouldn’t even advise my worst enemy to walk through there. The only solution to this problem would be either a satellitee police station or, the alley must be closed completely,” he said.
Colonel Conrad Botha, station commander of the Algoa Park Police station, said that the alley in Silver Oaks forms part of their normal area of policing, and that he would work with the councillor to discus the residents’ grievances. The residents spoken requested to remain anonymous out of fear of victimisation from the perpetrators. by Zeldre Swanepoel