Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aside: 'I will have to start all over again'

This article was originally published on page 11 of The Star on August 24, 2007

By Botho Molosankwe

With his eyes closed, his hands on his head and a look of despair on his face, Jermaine George walks away from the place he called home.

It wasn't much, but it was all he had.

George lived with several other homeless people under the bridge over Bree Street in Fordsburg.

Among the blankets when he went to sleep on Thursday night was a bag that held all his possessions - clothes, ID book and phone numbers of relatives.

Now he has lost it all.

Residents say that at 7am on Thursday the police swooped on the area.

They told the "residents" to put their hands against the wall, searched them, put them in police vehicles - and then torched their belongings. While in the vans, the people who lived under the bridge were not aware of what was happening and could only see smoke.

When they got out, they were stunned by the sight that greeted them.

The checkered pants, takkies and blue shirt George was wearing on Friday morning when the police arrived are the only possessions he has left. The fire destroyed all he owned.

He and his friends had called the littered space under the bridge home for years. Although not much, it was all that they had. It had blankets, food, clothes and toiletries. Some of the belongings were handouts, while some had been bought with the money from their daily odd jobs.

Now it is all gone.

For Abrachman Idries, who was hurt in an accident and wears a spinal cord-supporting brace, the medication to help him heal was lost in the fire.

Some people are determined to make the place home again and soon after the police left they began clearing up.

"I will have to start all over again," said George.

--The Star will donate blankets to the people who lost their possessions in the fire.

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