A homeless Cape Town couple might not have many worldly goods with which to endow each other‚ but that did not stop them tying the knot on Wednesday.
Nathaniel Booysen and Sophia Schalk commemorated World Homeless Day with a wedding at the City of Cape Town’s “safe space” under one of the CBD’s busy highways.
There were no flashy cars or tasty food‚ but the newly-weds were over the moon.
Booysen‚ 32‚ who has lived on the streets for 12 years‚ said: “I am just a little bit nervous but I am very happy. We have been planning this‚ this is a special day for us.”
Schalk‚ 45‚ moved from Lamberts Bay to Bellville and has been unemployed and homeless for 10 years.
“I am feeling very special‚” she said. “We chose this day because we are on the street and it is World Homeless Day.”
The couple have been living in the safe space under the Culemborg Bridge on the Foreshore‚ with 155 others‚ since July. At the site‚ they have access to clean water and ablution facilities‚ toiletries‚ blankets and health services.
JP Smith‚ the mayoral committee member for social services‚ said there were more than 4‚800 homeless people in Cape Town in 2015. He estimated that the number had increased sharply because of the floundering economy.
Instead of focusing only on policing‚ said Smith‚ the city was trying to mitigate the risks that rendered people homeless.
“Reintegration remains our number one priority‚ and the Culemborg safe space has been a big step in that direction‚” he said.
“In three-and-a-half months since it opened its gates‚ we have already had numerous success stories.”