The South African Police Service (SAPS) has called on motorists to stop giving money to beggars at intersections.
The Bedfordview & Edenvale News reported this week that the local SAPS believes that criminals posing as beggars are behind a recent spate of violent crimes in the area, including rape.
Bedfordview SAPS spokesperson, warrant officer Mduduzi Nhlabathi, told the community paper: “It is important for our residents to note that these beggars will not leave our area as long as they are still getting money from members of the community.
“One of the main solutions to getting rid of beggars is to stop giving them a reason to come back. Stop giving money to beggars,” said Nhlabathi.
It isn’t the first time that the SAPS has called on residents to stop supporting beggars.
“When you give money to a beggar on the street, you are not just feeding their addiction. You are also giving them a reason to stay in the area. You are creating a market for them,” said Cherri-Lyn Croucamp of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) in 2015.
Nhlabathi went a step further, saying that residents who continue to support beggars can be regarded as accomplices to the crimes they commit.
“We can’t, as law enforcement officers, keep quiet when we are working on ridding the area of beggars and some members of our community keep giving them a reason to be back. We rely on our residents to do the right thing,” he said.
A report published in January by Solidarity Helping Hand stated that “most beggars on the street are drug addicts”, putting that figure at as many as 80% to 90%.