Queuing for food in freezing Jo’burg

Luxury, a homeless man, sits on the corner of a street in Rosettenville with only a torn blanket for shelter.

He came from the Transkei in search of a better life in Johannesburg, but is now unemployed and is one of many battling the extreme winter conditions, relying only on donations given to him by the public.

”We cannot do much for them except give them food to make them feel good despite the cold weather,” says Joey Haramis, administrator of the Salvation Army soup kitchen in Simmonds Street.

Thamane is another homeless man who receives food from the soup kitchen. ”I came to Johannesburg looking for work, but I ended up on the street without any job or food. Now I have to stand in a queue for food.”

Haramis and her staff dish out soup and bread food every day at 2.30pm to a crowd of 80 to 180 people.

They may receive a bowl of soup every day, but many do not have a place to sleep. Shelters do not provide food for the homeless.

”Although we try our best to provide homeless people with food and blankets, we still encounter problems with people who opt to sell the blankets that we give them in exchange for liquor,” says Haramis.

Why do some people end up on the streets? According to Haramis, many homeless people do not like the discipline that they see in society. Some people prefer living on the streets despite the cold weather conditions.

The kitchen has also had its fair share of troubles, with scuffles breaking out in the queue because of people who are under the influence of drugs.

The soup kitchen receives bread from companies such as Blue Label and fresh produce from Woolworths. Standard Bank also contributes regularly.

The Salvation Army urges the public to contribute non-perishable foods and clothing.

Haramis continues to work with the homeless in the hope that the interaction she has with them will help change their mindset in order to make something of their lives.

”Let every meal I make build healthy bodies and loving hearts,” are the words from a kitchen prayer hanging on one of the soup kitchen’s walls.

”With weather like this, our lives have become so much more difficult,” says Thamane. — Sapa

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