Windhoek-The City of Windhoek says it will start enforcing bylaws that punish public loitering and begging in the city, because street children and beggars obstruct traffic and free movement of people.
Any person found sitting, standing, or lying down in public areas within the City of Windhoek, in a manner that causes obstruction to traffic or hinders pedestrian movements, will be liable to pay a fine of N$500.
The City of Windhoek’s police department says there appears to be a link between an increase in the number of people loitering and begging in the street and the increase in house break-ins.
In fact, the City Police maintain that the majority of people seen begging or wandering around in public are in fact disguised criminals looking for information on their potential targets.
“Some of the people wandering around or begging are in fact thieves just waiting for the right opportunity to steal. That is why the City prohibits any form of loitering or street collection of goods or money,” City Police public relation’s officer Constable Fabian Amukwelele said.
Amukwelele gave the example of street kids and men who are always seen begging at traffic lights.
“They hinder traffic as other motorists have to wait for the begging child or man to be given money by another motorist. In most cases they are always seen standing aimlessly on the road, which causes accidents,” he said.
Women with disabled children have become a common sight around Windhoek’s city centre, begging at street corners, a practice that the City Police says is illegal.
“Collecting money for charitable or any other purpose without the consent or approval of the city council, is a violation of the law and one is liable to pay a fine of N$1,000-00,” Amukwelele explained.
The city bylaws state that people need the consent of the municipality for charitable collections, and the consent must state on what grounds the person is collecting money or goods on the streets.
Without such consent person collecting money in the street are in violation of city bylaws.
Police have yet to act with a firm hand against those who contravene those bylaws, often only detaining them for a couple of hours before releasing them.
Amukwelele says this is because the police, “always tries [its] best to find out what are some of the underlying factors behind such activities”.
“From there, we then try to contact relevant stakeholders such as the ministry of gender equality and child welfare, in an effort to assist them further.
“This matter is far bigger than City Police, and that is why we consult other relevant stakeholders to assist such people,” Amukwelele noted.