Recently, I expressed my dismay at a bathroom that charged me one rand (ten cents in the US) to enter it. I asked an acquaintance with me, “What’s the point of charging R1?” She answered that it was to keep homeless people out of the bathroom. I felt rage and horror at the establishment’s alleged discrimination against homeless people. However, my friend disagreed with me, arguing that the discrimination was not unfounded.
To give a context: my acquaintance is a South African living in the township in Cape Town that has been identified by a media statement of the SAHRC as a crisis area in regards to toilet sanitation. For 6 weeks toilet workers in the area have been on strike because of low wages. The residents attack city workers who try to clean it in the meantime. The protest is now very political and largely blames apartheid and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for leaving Black South Africans in poverty today and the DA (the political part in power in the Western Cape) for not making more substantial changes.
While this person is not directly affected by the sanitation issue in the area she lives in, I was still shocked that my acquaintance was so inhospitable to the thought of sharing toilets with homeless people. Sure there are other issues to consider, but at the end of the day, homeless people deserve the same amount of dignity as anyone else.
What are your thoughts?