The age old problem of beggars standing at various traffic lights across Newcastle has escalated, with their numbers steadily increasing in recent months. However, the authorities are currently addressing the issue head on and will no longer tolerate the presence of these individuals at intersections.
This decisive action comes after the Newcastle Municipality Traffic Services arrested 11 beggars on Thursday, 27 July 2023.
In May 2023, the Newcastillian News reported on the surging number of beggars since the COVID-19 lockdown, and many of them have been linked to both petty crimes and drug abuse. At the time, the Newcastle Municipality explained the existence of relevant laws to deal with these individuals, citing the risks they pose on local roads.
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Bebsie Cronje, representing Newcastle Municipality, has actively engaged with concerned residents during public meetings and ward committee gatherings.
She stated, “Many people feel unsafe and uncomfortable with the beggars at the traffic lights. Not only do some of these individuals get arrogant when people say no to them, but they also pose a hazard on the road. If they do get knocked over, the motorist then faces the consequences.”
Recognising the severity of the issue, Cllr Cronje approached the Municipal Traffic Services Department, which had already devised a plan of action.
On 27 July 2023, the plan was set into action, leading to the successful arrest of several beggars, marking the beginning of a crackdown on the problem.
The arrested beggars will now face charges in court, and the Newcastle Municipality is determined not to allow any lingering presence of beggars. While a handful of beggars were spotted in town on Friday, 28 July 2023, the municipality will allegedly take further action to prevent their return.
Cllr Cronje further emphasised the importance of not supporting these beggars, stating that such assistance only encourages them to remain on the roads.
She warned that if Newcastillians are caught supporting the beggars, traffic officers could charge the motorist for putting their hands out of their vehicle for purposes other than giving an authorised hand signal.
Furthermore, Cllr Cronje acknowledged that ceasing support might seem harsh, but stressed that it is in the best interest of everyone, promoting safety.
Additionally, Cllr Cronje pointed out that beggars also hinder emergency services during critical times.
As the Newcastle Municipality continues to address the problem of vagrants at traffic lights, they encourage the public to share their thoughts and views on the matter in the comment section below.
The proactive measures taken by the Newcastle Municipality demonstrate their commitment to tackling the growing beggar issue and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the community.
Be sure to leave your comments on this below.