tbabedge5The red sun sets over Cape Town.
As shadows lengthen the temperature drops and frowns grow deeper.
Underneath a bridge in Ruyterwacht, four homeless people pray that it won’t rain tonight.
One of the forgotten souls broke both her legs recently, so she hardly ever moves from a large sponge she calls a mattress.
Her dejected companion sits with his head in his hands. They smell potatoes boiling a few metres away, but they will not be eating anything that night.
It is unclear whether it’s their lot in life or their raw hunger that makes their eyes fill up with tears.
Two other victims of the world tend to the rare feast boiling over charcoaled wood.
It will be the first time in months that they will not be eating something that was discovered in a dustbin.
The 42-year-old man worked that day in a garden and earned just enough money to buy seven potatoes and alcoholic relief.
His wife – as he calls her – stares silently at the fire while he talks to TygerBurger.
“I’ve been living in the streets for 20 years…”
David Masinga looks defiant for a moment, but his steely eyes well up with self-pity.
“No! I don’t want to be sad. Let’s not talk about that!” he exclaims determinedly.
His memories of a life in the rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal is too much to bear.
His “wife”, Elsie Landingwe, remembers her 12-year-old son, Lukie, who lives in Colesberg. She hasn’t seen him in years.
David explains: “We cannot go! We don’t have money. We never have enough money. Look at us!”
The man dressed in dirty, ragged clothes holds out his rough hands. It is covered in horrible lumps of dead, hard skin.
“When I look at my wife I feel sick,” he says while looking at the faded sores on her face. “We cannot let Lukie see us this way…” he adds.
They do not live, they yearn.
With this in mind the question, “Is there anything that still gives you hope?” seems empty and sadly pointless. The answer David gives is overwhelming.
“Every morning when I open my eyes I am thankful, so I thank God. Again and again! He walks with me…”
When asked where he sees himself in 10 years – perhaps in a house of his own or with a rewarding job – he responds: “I don’t want any of that! I want to run with God!”
He takes a deep drag from a makeshift cigarette and says with an alcohol infused breath that he plans to stop smoking and drinking “soon”…
The other man sitting on the mattress with his companion is one of the most softly-spoken men one is ever likely to meet.
David seems to say the right things, but Clifford Links seems absolutely sincere.
He doesn’t want to live underneath a bridge that floods ever so often. He wants a job. He needs food. He longs for the life he had more than 10 years ago.
Clifford pleads inaudibly: “Please… Can someone please help… I want a roof above my head…”
His wide eyes seem innocent, but it is clear that they have seen awful things.
Lying beside him is the crippled Eliza Olyn. She was hit by a car while she was begging in the street, so now she uses an elementary crutch when she dares to test her broken legs.
They will not be eating potatoes that night…
“At least the sunsets are free,” concludes Clifford with a glimmer of hope.
If anyone can find it in their hearts to help them, contact Aletta Lottering on 078 694 9188.