Why you should not give money to beggars in South Africa

 ·27 Jan 2016

A report published by Solidarity Helping Hand states that ‘most beggars on the street are drug addicts’ – as many as  80% to 90%.

Interviews conducted by Solidarity senior researcher Nicolien Welthagen, showed that 20% of the money beggars receive goes towards food, while the rest is spent on drugs.

Solidarity conducted  a series of interviews in mid July, which were published in a body of work titled: White Beggars & Drug Dependence.

Interviews were conducted with seven drug addicts who had already been admitted to Moegge-sukkel or House Regeneration in Pretoria. The respondents were chosen specifically (non-probability, targeted snow-ball sample technique) because, according to the staff of Moeggesukkel, they would be most suitable to answer the research questions.

They are all males and their ages are 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 33 and 48 years. Welthagen stressed that the research was based on studying small groups, not race.

The report warned that for the general public it is impossible to know who is drugged and who is not, who is going to buy food with the money given to them and who is going to buy drugs.

An extract from the report read:

“If I tell you that 90% of them are addicted to drugs then I’m not exaggerating. Possibly even more. And they get all their money by begging. Their ages vary between 19 and forty.

When they make some money they squander it, like buying KFC or McDonald’s while they have a lot of money.

Then, at other times, they will buy soy mince, but then they will all skip together.

Twenty percent of the money goes for food and the rest is spent on drugs.

That is the way it goes, every day.

When you’re on drugs you don’t have any appetite. That is why the guys become so thin. They don’t eat.

That’s the biggest problem. The thing is, your body becomes so weak and then there’s the withdrawal as well. You don’t eat and you don’t sleep.

The person you see begging on a street corner is not the full picture. You cannot see or realise the extremely complicated, entangled life of everything constituting the world of a drug addict.”

Welthagen told BusinessDay that the idea that white beggars earn huge amounts of money daily, is unlikely. Based on her interviews, they were likely to earn between R50 and R500 a day.

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