Released: February 2020
Pietermaritzburg Agency of Community Social Action (PACSA) is an organization that advocates for and supports marginalized people in uMgungundlovu area. The January 2020 article published by the Witness, citing the Msunduzi Municipal Notice No. 89 of 2012 General Bylaws, where Bylaw 13 prohibits begging for money, is criminalizing the assisting people who make their livelihood from the streets. We reject the ongoing marginalization of vulnerable members of our community and even labelling them “beggars”, this goes against our call for justice and equity and equality. Labelling fellow citizens as “beggars” by an arm of state that is supposed to defend equality and justice is questionable and deeply troubling. We further believe that these bylaws criminalize the poor, whilst not addressing the underlying issues that result in the poor, mainly young people, resorting to being on the streets, and seeking any help from passers-by. We know and believe that there are real and fundamental socio-economic reasons that uMsunduzi Municipality needs to address, such as youth unemployment, limited recreational facilities, increasing number of drug dealers and drug pushers, fueled by politicians and police complacency and corroboration with criminals.
As an organisation that has fought for the rights of people in the uMgungundlovu and KZN Midlands area since 1979, we cannot turn a blind eye when such a miscarriage of justice is perpetuated by the uMsunduzi Municipality. In reality, it is uMsunduzi Municipality, uMgungundlovu District Municipality and KZN Provincial government whose administration should be criminalized for failing the poor. The South African Bill of Rights, section 26 stipulates that everyone (including people you call beggars) the right to adequate housing. Section 26.3, states that “no legislation may permit arbitrary evictions” As such, the demolition of Ematsheni beer hall, a place that had been a home for many young addicted drug users, without providing alternative accommodation or shelter by uMsunduzi Municipality, was in violation of this provision. Therefore the Municipality should be held accountable for failing to protect the rights of the youth on the street.
We will continue to walk with poor members of our society who are forced into braving the indignity of begging and harsh weather conditions, so that they can earn a pittance that will help them survive the harsh realities of their everyday life. For us, this remains a struggle that we need to fight against, together with the citizens of the city, and not respond harshly on fellow human beings. We need to protect their dignity, after all we are ALL God’s creation, so who are we to judge other people’s circumstances? Citizens, instead need to take a different direction by showing and offering love instead of supporting oppressive bylaws that criminalise their way of making a living. PACSA remains unapologetic about supporting those individuals that feel like the system is against them. We will not and we will never keep quiet when we see the injustice happening in the society.
As the community and citizens, we are our brother’s keepers, we need to do all in our power to look after and advocate for those who are less fortunate than we are.
In the wake of increasing reports of violence, deaths, and rape targeted at women and children, PACSA chooses to side with the oppressed, the side of those who are in pain and suffer injustice. PACSA CANNOT AND WILL NOT KEEP SILENT, as the country bleeds.
Desmond Tutu wrote ïf you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor, If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality”
Despite the struggles that have been waged against Gender-Based Violence and femicide, there does seem to be an end in sight. Womxn are under ongoing attack from men. They are not safe in their homes, churches, schools, universities, whilst walking on the street and in the workplace. As perpetrators hunt them down and find gruesome ways of exerting their power over their humanity, taking away their dignity and stripping them off of their humanity. WOMEN AND CHILDREN ARE NOT SAFE IN SOUTH AFRICA, as the justice system is failing them. Perpetrators walk the streets freely, receive light sentences and repeatedly find ways to take away women and children’s freedom. Women are forced into fear, terror, hiding, emotional trauma, anger, and ongoing struggle again perpetrators, who are, by and large, men.
In line with our values; grounded in Justice, Equity and Dignity, PACSA rejects all forms of gender-based harassment, violence, rape, murder, particularly targeted at women and children. We remain resolute on calling out these acts of violence, to be in solidarity with victims and their families PACSA recommits itself to stand in solidarity with victims of gender-based violence and femicide. These are our comrades, children, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. WE WILL NOT BE SILENT, WE WILL SPEAK OUT. We are them and they are us.
We call on the justice system in its entirety to;
Definition of Womxn: (this is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve), but are their own free and separate entities. It is more intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of colour).
28 September 2019, Msunduzi Museum, Pietermaritzburg at 9am
The Pietermaritzburg Agency Community Social Action (PACSA), working within uMgungundlovu Municipality has launched its new Youth programme, called the Youth Street Survivors program.
The launch event was held on the 20th of June 2019, at the Mandela Park in the east of the Pietermaritzburg CBD. “I am happy with this level of attendance. The main intention is not to have the initiative only to be the initiative of June month, but everything we will be doing in all activities we must be able to say next year this time, here is a street survivor who has been able to make it to the mainstream of society and various spaces”, said Nqabakazi Mathe the PACSA Director YSS launch.
PACSA created a safe space where the youth living on the street can meet and share the ideas on problems facing them. The organisation has dedicated their efforts towards the information dissemination among the youth, towards the creation of platforms for networking. “Nothing about us without us”, during the launch the streets survivors shared their stories, citing their daily struggles and their wishes for the future. “We are misunderstood, not all of us are pick-pocketing around the streets, and some of us are earning a living by helping carry groceries to the taxi ranks, wash cars, and fetch water for the taxi drivers. In the streets we are the victims of brutal violence if someone lost anything they come beat us up, without any clarity of whether was it me or whoever, we bear the blame that we are often not responsible for. Sometimes they burn our blankets” Nhlakanipho the YSS sharing his story at the launch. Some of them were looking for ways to stop using drugs, to which they are now addicted to.