[Hpn] Homeless Sleep With One Eye Open

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sat, 10 Sep 2005 11:05:39 -0400


http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=15&art_id=vn20050910111353369C108084


Homeless sleep with 'one eye open'    Igsaan Salie
    September 10 2005

Cape Town vagrants say they are sleeping with "one eye open" after the spate
of attacks and killings of homeless people in and around Cape Town.

At least two homeless men have been killed this week and there have been at
least two non-fatal attacks over the past month.

In the most recent attack on Thursday, an unidentified man in his mid-40s, a
known vagrant, was found bludgeoned to death outside a public toilet in
Keizergracht on the outskirts of District Six.

Earlier in the week the body of a man was found in Constitution Street, his
hands and legs tied with nylon rope. Police were unable to confirm whether
he was a vagrant and at this stage have no evidence connecting the case with
other incidents.

'There's not much we can do'
On Tuesday, Stanley Rooi died a few hours after being severely beaten with
hammer and crowbar on Green Point Common.

His partner, Lydia Pieterse, was severely beaten. They were attacked as they
lay sleeping. Witnesses said the attackers were two men who arrived and
drove away in a red CitiGolf. The two men are also said to be suspects in
two other attacks on the common last month.

Cape Town's homeless were on high alert as word of the attacks spread.
Fellow-vagrant Bernito Lee said he had known Rooi for many years and what
had happened to him was tragic.

"There's not much we can do. Looks like we are going to have to sleep with
one eye open from now on."

Another homeless man, Dennis de Waal, said attacks on vagrants were common
and very often the perpetrators were "smartly dressed" people.

'I can't understand why people treat us like this'
"They come out of the clubs or the bars drunk and they'll just kick or hit
you. I can't understand why people treat us like this. We don't break into
cars, we don't steal, we just try to make some money to buy some food and a
drink.

"This was a truly gruesome thing that happened to Stanley. Normally people
like us die of the cold or hunger, but to get killed - that's terrible."

Ironically Rooi was no longer down and out as he was recently paid more than
R22 000 by the Road Accident Fund.

Fund spokesperson Sarita Cronje confirmed yesterday the fund had paid the
money to Rooi's attorneys on August 25 as compensation for being knocked
down in a traffic accident in December.

Rooi's attorneys, Kruger & Co, confirmed that Rooi had been paid the money,
less their fees, by cheque. They declined to say exactly when or how much he
had been paid. It is not clear what has happened to the money.

Police spokesperson Billy Jones said the identity of the homeless man found
near District Six had not yet been established.

At this stage of the investigation police were treating the cases as
isolated incidents as there was no physical evidence to suggest otherwise,
but all possibilities would be investigated.

In response to speculation that police were not investigating the matter
with great urgency because it involved homeless people, Jones said this was
by no means the case.

"The cases are being investigated and have been assigned to competent
officials with support from other colleagues."

In the 1980s a serial killer preyed on vagrants sleeping on the streets in
the city centre, murdering six. A seventh survived an attack but was too
badly hurt to identify his assailant.

All the victims were shot with a .22-calibre pistol within a 100m radius of
Caledon Square police station in Buitenkant Street. No one was ever caught.