The South African Weather Services (SAWS) has predicted cold and wet weather across the central provinces until Thursday. Although the country will not experience a cold front such as the one that hit last week, winter is still in full swing with temperatures expected to drop.
The harsh weather conditions have not been kind to the homeless in the City of Roses. Cold, hungry and cash-strapped, the homeless in Bloemfontein say the streets are not kind and keeping warm is the only option to survive.
They have resorted to starting open fires with rubble that they collect as a way of shielding themselves during the unforgiving cold conditions. They say a helping hand could go a long way as they are not coping really well, but surviving is something that they have to do.
“It is cold and we stay in the streets and we don’t have facilities to keep us warm and stuff like that. We keep the fires burning so that we can be warm, when we feel warm we sleep. It’s a struggle for us. There are two of us living here, we eat from the dustbins, people laugh at us but it’s our stomachs. We just eat and we don’t steal anyone’s things. We struggle but we survive by selling empty cans,” say some of the homeless.
Unfortunately for them, they will have to brace themselves for harsher conditions as SAWS expects rain showers over the central and Eastern parts of the country.
Free State senior forecaster Quinton Jacobs explains, “So it does look like quite significant amounts of rain can happen from Sunday, it looks like by Thursday. So four days of rain and obviously when the rain starts it’s going to get cold again. We are looking at cold temperatures for the next seven days or so and then from Thursday onwards, it will slowly recover again.”
The Mangaung Metro Municipality says fires started by the homeless pose a threat to infrastructure in the city. Metro spokesperson Qondile Khedama explains they negatively impact the city, having the potential of burning some electricity cables and thereby causing massive damage.
“We try to do a bit of law enforcement but you must understand that some of the people it is the circumstances that is why we are developing programmes with social development to check and look out for those who are supposed to be in placed in shelters,” he adds.
The Mangaung Metro says the issue of the homeless is one that is complex as most of them are from outside the city and the province.