Media Statement
July 2019
Taking hands nationally, to end homelessness, one person at a time

Prepared by:
South African National Network on Street Homelessness (SANNoSH)

Street homelessness is on the rise all over South Africa. Society at large underestimates the complexity of homelessness, labelling homeless people quickly without understanding the diverse causes of homelessness. The result is a glaring dearth of government policy and appropriate funding instruments to address and overcome the causes.

The South African National Network on Street Homelessness (SANNoSH) was established in 2017 to (i) build a strong national network of collaboration between those committed to address homelessness, (ii) to advocate and help inform a dedicated government response to homelessness including appropriate policies and budgets, and (iii) to create general awareness in society, also dispelling myths that help perpetuate homelessness.

The purpose of the network is to connect homelessness forums, organisations, academic institutions, local authorities, faith based bodies, researchers, and homeless leaders from across South Africa, to seek collectively for pathways out of homelessness. In doing so we share research, information and knowledge, and we focus in particular on the sharing of good practices.

In recent weeks the senseless attacks and murders of 5 homeless people in the City of Tshwane received national attention. As SANNoSH we deplore and condemn these acts. We commend the SAPS for the sensitivity with which they engaged investigations, but call on all members of society to join hands in bringing the brutal violation of homeless individuals to an end. Every day homeless individuals are violated in different ways, including the failure to recognize and affirm their inherent dignity and potential.

We lament the half-hearted response of local government and failure to provide strong, concrete support to local organisations, already stretched beyond their limits, that seek to address this crisis of growing homelessness. We lament the lack of dedicated policies, strategies and budgets at all levels of government to deal with street homelessness and failure to think beyond relief or welfare. We lament the lack of investment in appropriate long-term solutions addressing psycho-social needs, as well as skills, employment and housing deficits.

As partners and affiliates of SANNoSH, whilst being committed to a national conversation, we work in our local contexts to seek sustainable solutions pathways out of homelessness. We commit ourselves to work with government, civil society, faith-based organisations and private sector to find innovative and bold alternatives to homelessness. But we can only partner with willing partners: the senseless killings of 5 homeless men in Tshwane would only have meaning if it pricks our collective consciences, and propels us into collective action.

We hope that the current media attention to homelessness across South Africa will provoke a meaningful national conversation, interventions and solutions to end homelessness, one person at a time.

An attack on homeless people in Tshwane, is an attack on people who are homeless across South Africa. As a society, the violation of any homeless person anywhere, is an attack on our common humanity. And this needs to stop today.


  • Anton Mieny – NGK Luipaardsvlei. Krugersdorp
  • Cathy Murugan – Holy Family Sisters; Denis Hurley Centre; Durban
  • Chris Desmond – Centre for Liberation Studies; Durban
  • De la Harpe Le Roux – Towers of Hope Leadership Foundation, Bloemfontein
  • Jon Hopkins – U-turn Homeless Ministries, Cape Town
  • Margot Rubin – South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, School of Architecture and Planning, Wits University; Johannesburg Homelessness Network; Johannesburg
  • Mary Gillett-de Klerk – Johannesburg Organisation of Services to the Homeless (JOSH); Johannesburg Homelessness Network (JHN); Johannesburg
  • Raymond Perrier – Denis Hurley Centre, Durban
  • Rehana Vally – Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Pretoria; Pretoria
  • Stephan de Beer – Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria; Pretoria
  • Tebogo Mpufane – Kopano Manyano God The Founder; Pretoria
  • Wayne Renkin – Tshwane Leadership Foundation; Tshwane Homelessness Forum; Pretoria
  • Wilma Piek – VRCID Social, Bellville & Parow; Western Cape
  • Wilna de Beer – Tshwane Leadership Foundation; Pretoria