There seems to be some consternation by social advocacy groups that Cape Town’s proposed nuisance bylaws will outlaw begging and fail in the interpretation of statutes as they are applied to the poor, however there is another side to the story of public nuisance in the city.
For years, buskers have had a raw deal from council – it seems an unappreciative kneejerk response from local business who see panhandlers and “begging for entertainment” as a public nuisance. Let’s get real, some buskers aren’t all that good, but most of them deserve our support. Will the “begging bylaw” be applied to street entertainers, who routinely cadge tourists and passersby for the odd buck?
If you happen to be one of the many “public nuisances” in the city, then you will undoubtedly be outraged by remarks made by Councillor JP Smith. Panhandlers may be arrested if they get a “negative” response and buskers could be thrown in the tjokkie for simply”touching” tourists with their homegrown presentation. For some, the “touching” issue is a sensitive one, and a sad indightment of the Cape caste system that turns some residents into “untouchables”.
What looks reasonable on paper in council, could turn out to be draconian — who hasn’t been “touched” by poverty? Who of you havn’t felt the heart move within, while listening to a Kwela player on Long Street, or a Marabi musician in St Georges Mall, some Goema in Greenmarket Square?
The DA would love to clean the streets of all those troublesome locals, while turning Cape Town into a Singapore for developers who have absolutely no interest in supporting “street entertainment” and who want nothing more than to “ban poverty” by pushing the poor into the ghetto.
Then there are people like myself, I must confess, who have been forced to panhandle their wares on occasion for want of a decent living.
Are we going to be arrested simply so that the bylaw can get tested in court?
There are many buskers in Cape Town who attract tourists and get absolutely no support from our new pro-rich, anti-poor “larney” council who are the real untouchables.
Let’s never forget those of us who will never give up busking, since it is the one thing that is guaranteed to put you in touch with the people. So much for the Cape’s anti-touching laws.