The Central City Improvement District (CCID) has again partnered with CBD-based organisation Khulisa Solutions to form a pilot project that is set to keep hot spot areas in Long Street clean.
The Long Street bin project was started to prevent the mess caused by bin pickers on the corners of Hout, Church and Longmarket streets, where businesses collectively leave their bins out for the trucks to collect.
The CCID then roped in a team of four homeless people from the Streetscape programme, run by Khulisa Solutions, to collect, guard and return the bins to the owners.
The project was recently extended to include Castle Street, adding another 15 businesses to the 15 buildings and 38 retailers which are already part of the project.
Richard Beesley, manager of the CCID’s urban management department, said the project was initiated for two reasons: to prevent litter from ending up on the streets when people rummage in bins, and also to prevent theft of bins.
He said before the launch of the project, many businesses in Long Street were putting their bins out for collection in the early hours of the morning, with collection only happening many hours later.
“The situation had become so challenging in regard to the litter created by the rummaging, with so many complaints coming through from businesses and the public that, as members of the CCID, we put our heads together to develop a plan.”
The director of Khulisa Solutions, Jesse Laitinen, said: “The homeless people scratch in the bins, steal them and dump things all over the place. One of the businesses in Long Street had six bins stolen in three months.”
She said they then partnered with the CCID, who hired a team of homeless people in the programme at Khulisa, who are employed to fetch the bins at the businesses from the three blocks they service, guard the bins, manage the site until the truck comes, and then take the bins back to the businesses.
The supervisor of the project at Khulisa Solutions, Magadien Wentzel, said he headed up a team of three men and one team leader. “The team starts at 7am and collects the bins from the businesses which open early and take them to Hout, Longmarket or Church streets.
“They are required to guard the spot – one man per corner – until the truck arrives at about 9am.”
Mr Wentzel said the team also sorted through the bins to remove the recyclables that other homeless people collect so that they don’t leave all the contents of the bin in the road.
“We work with the other homeless people. We manage the situation when they scratch in the bins, and ask them not to make a mess. They have since been rummaging through the bins neatly, and under the watchful eye of the guards.”
He said the main goal was to keep the street clean.
Mr Wentzel said one of the challenges the guards faced, was having restaurants and businesses from other roads, like Loop and Bree streets, bring their bins down to Long Street to benefit from the service.
“We are then uncertain where the bins have to go after they are emptied. We are familiar with all the businesses we service in Long Street, so it creates confusion.”
Carlisle Marankey, CCID precinct manager for the Long Street area, said the CCID had concerns that the Khulisa team would encounter resistance from street people wanting to rummage and who were still causing litter.
However, he said, the team engaged with the recyclers and the recyclers have ended up working together with the team, cleaning up after themselves.
Another challenge was that retailers were giving the team black bags to put out instead of placing the bags inside bins, which is not allowed.
“We stepped in as the CCID, with Richard and myself engaging with the businesses concerned and the businesses in turn requested the relevant application forms to obtain the necessary numbers of bins they actually required,” said Mr Marankey.
Ms Laitinen said the project was in its pilot phase for this reason – to iron out any issues the workers may face.
She said they may look into getting the same system implemented in Loop Street. “This is just a pilot so the guys are learning. We want to be part of a solution.”
Mr Beesley said the CCID, which funded the project, hoped to continue to roll it out, bit by bit, as funding allowed.Mr Wentzel said after the team returned the bins to the businesses and cleaned the area, they moved to Greenmarket square to help clean up at the market (“City extends CCID safety programme,” CapeTowner, December 7 2017).
“At 11am, the workers leave Greenmarket Square, then return their goods, have lunch at the service dining room, and then sit in on a counselling session.
“I’ve integrated the Greenmarket Square project with the Long Street bin project, so that people can all attend the counselling session at the same time. We have two people who are new in the programme, and the others are finding their feet nicely,” he said.
He said while some of the homeless people on the project worked half days, the others worked in the Streetscape gardens until 4pm.
Zamu Masabalala, the team leader of the Long Street project, has been living on the streets of the city centre for eight years. “I used to live in Delft with my ex-girlfriend but she had me arrested – she claimed I abused her. I was held at Goodwood prison and when I was discharged I came to live on the streets of the city centre.”
He said three years ago, while he was at the Service Dining Rooms to get a meal, a man told him about the Streetscape project.
“I told the man I didn’t have an ID, but he said I would get one through the project.”
Mr Masabalala said since then, he had been been in the programme working his way up. He became the team leader when the project started, and is responsible for assisting Mr Wentzel, as well as helping the team with the work.
He works a full day, spending the afternoon at the Streetscape gardens in Trafalgar High School after his shift in Long Street and on Greenmarket Square. Mr Masabalala said he was grateful to the project.
“I am grateful that I can work. I get my money at the end of every month. I don’t have to wait for hand-outs. In March, I’ll be moving to my own home in Delft.”
He said when he was back on his feet, he wanted to train to be a security guard and get a driver’s licence as well. “My message to homeless people is that they must be strong because life is challenging, but it’s also beautiful, so they should protect it.