The City of Cape Town is appealing to the public not to give money to destitute people begging on the streets.

Instead, they ask that donations of tinned food and clothes be made at public libraries across the city as part of their Give Dignity campaign. This in an effort to get people off the streets, back home and reintegrated into society.

The Safe Space project is a transitional shelter that provides a place to sleep, meals and supportive programmes to get destitute people back on their feet.

Cecilia Jenniker has been destitute for most of her 47 years. Her mother and eldest son died on the streets.

In 2018, she was one of the first people to arrive at the Safe Space.

Making full use of the programmes and support she found at Safe Space, Jenniker is working hard to turn her life around.

She became sober and is now employed at the shelter.

“At Safe Space, there are always people that will help. I was in need of assistance and there were people who were able to assist me,” says Jenniker.

The City of Cape Town says like Jenniker, anyone in need can find support. However, the public should assist by donating to shelters and projects, rather than giving hand outs.

Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town’s Homeless Agency Committee, Ncumisa Mahangu says, “Give responsibly, give to the shelters and give to the Safe Place. We have libraries all over the City of Cape Town, where you can go and donate. Please do not give on the street money because if you give money on the street, you are encouraging people to sit on the street and then you are not breaking the cycle of homelessness.”

33-year-old Gershwin Johnson who is also homeless says shelters are restrictive and have too many rules. Johnson makes an income by selling stickers at traffic lights and says he would rather do this than go back to the life of gangsterism he was once part of.

“I’m not working. I’m on the streets and I’m hustling. That’s how I survive. It’s sometimes dangerous and scary, but you just have to stand your ground because it comes with the package,” says Johnson.

After 31 years together, Jenniker married her life partner, Llewellyn, in 2018. The pair is working on their dream to one day be able to provide a home for their remaining son and they build on this dream one day at a time.