Enterprising individuals or the architects of crime?
This is the debate surrounding a group of vagrants, often spotted in residential areas sifting through black refuse bags for cans and other items they can sell for scrap.
For some, these are simply men making a hard living.
A resident contacted the Newcastle Advertiser recently, paying tribute to these men for their dedication towards earning the proverbial honest buck.
One of these men is known simply as Senzo.
Senzo has resided in Newcastle for five years, and works with three other vagrants to collect cans and metal objects to turn in at local scrap dealers.
“I collect into one bag of about 25 kilogrammes. They give me R12 per kg.”
Yet others in the community have laid recent suburban break-ins at the foot of vagrants like Senzo, including members of local neighbourhood watch initiatives.
They are concerned the vagrants are in fact part of a syndicate.
“We chase a lot of these guys to underneath the [Hardwick Street] bridge. They are definitely scouting and definitely involved in crime,” said a local civilian crime fighter.
He believed those digging through the refuse bags were using their ‘enterprising nature’ as a front to scout homes for eventual break-ins and burglaries.
However, he could not say how frequently vagrants were involved with crime.
Stating there was a group of between 30 and 35 vagrants beneath the Hardwick Street bridge, he said some criminals sought refuge there.
He was certain Senzo and his partners formed part of this group.
“The problem is, they stay under the bridge and nothing is done to remove them.”
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