This dissertation explores the right to the city and implications of this right on the lives of street homeless people in the inner city of Pretoria. Street homeless people are people who have made their homes on the streets; those that sleep on pavements and in parks and do not have any form of shelter. The United Nations has identified four different types of homelessness and my focus for this study is on street homeless people. The study is based on research done over a period of five months in the inner city of Pretoria, South Africa. The crucial objective of this dissertation is to show that the topics of homelessness and the right to the city present anthropologists and other academics a different perspective from the inner city of Pretoria on the lives of homeless people. I raise the case that recognising homelessness in our urban centres fortifies our perception of this occurrence so that we are able to come up with strategies that will inform new policies; policies that will make for a better future of everyone residing in our cities.
This research project is beholden to, and employs studies of the right to the city, social justice, power, homelessness, and the city. My arguments are grounded in the social justice approach which consigns rights and duties in the establishments of society, which then empowers people to receive the basic benefits and toils of cooperation. The applicable bodies associated with social justice, right to the city and power are not only limited to social security, education, labour rights, health care but to a wider structure of progressive taxation regulation of markets and public services as well to ensure just circulation of wealth, no gross social injustice and equal opportunity.
I use ethnography to touch on narratives of social injustices in the city and to highlight the socio-spatial traits of the right to the city and how they affect how space is utilised. I point to the fact that the history of migration in South Africa where people left their countries, rural and small town homes and moved to the cities in search of opportunities helped in increasing the numbers of homeless people on the streets. Another factor contributing to the large numbers of homeless people on the streets is that in developing countries, cities are known and perceived to be the economic hubs and from them money and opportunities flow to the periphery so people are naturally drawn to where there is an opportunity to gain. In a city it is clear to see the intensity of inequalities present in major cities. There is a distinct difference between those that have and those that do not. This leads to many questions about rights and justice both economically and socially. Small sizes of the population have their basic rights acknowledged whilst others have to struggle to have their voice heard and their rights acknowledged in the same space. Like in many places around the world; Pretoria’s industrial and political history has made it mainly vulnerable to the subverting consequences of present economic reformation developments, but fresh prospects for the elite have caused the city's specific histories of race, class and space.
The following study aims to contribute to wider debates about the current policy that is in place concerning homeless people and the right to public spaces in the inner city of Pretoria, by examining the extent to which the needs of the most marginalized population sector in inner city Pretoria are addressed. While my dissertation captures daily lives of homeless persons, in some parts it also relates the activities they are involved in to social injustices that are common throughout the world.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--Unversity of Pretoria, 2018.