Cllr Nicola Jowell shared the beautiful story of Rasta and Sharni and how the community rallied to get them both to safety during the lockdown.
Cape Town, South Africa (07 April 2020) – Rasta is a 67-year-old homeless man who has been living on the streets for the last 55-years; he lives on Tramways Road with his dog Sharni. Many people know of Rasta which is why Cllr Nicola Jowell got involved to move both him and Sharni somewhere safe for the lockdown.
Cllr Nicola Jowell offered Rasta and many others, accommodation at an emergency shelter. The homeless were to get on a bus that would take them to the shelter, but Rasta was deeply concerned about Sharni. He wanted her to be safe and didn’t want to be separated from her.
“Everyone realised that this was a tricky situation as Rasta would not easily want to be separated from Sharni.
Cllr Dave Bryant and Marc Truss made arrangements for Sharni to go to the very kind and generous people at the Fritz Dog Hotel. Although Rasta was extremely worried about this he understood that it was a necessity. Transport was arranged for Sharni to go and Rasta accompanied us to the bus pick-up point.”
While the team were offloading Sharni, she bolted. She was terrified of everyone that wasn’t Rasta. The team struggled to catch her and had to call on Rasta to help them.
“We had to break the hard news to Rasta who was understandably upset about this. He was taken to the area to assist with looking but he was adamant that Sharni would find her way home to Sea Point so he wanted to go and wait for her there.
The search continued and the GP CID spotted Sharni on Kloof Road but she ran away. They kept an eye on her whilst Rasta was fetched from Sea Point. There was an immensely happy reunion between the two!
Our plan has been for Rasta to accompany us to Fritz tomorrow to settle her in and ensure that she does not runway.
However tonight I have been contacted by members of the community who are looking to foster her for this time. It is really so immensely heartwarming that in the face of this disaster residents remember that we are all just people together. We feel the same emotions, fears and build the same bonds. That for the rest of the lockdown period Rasta and his best friend will be separated.”
People also offered to donate dog food for Sharni. Now Cllr Jowell is posed with the question of how to extend the help after the lockdown.
“Yes… I know the inevitable question that will be posted to me… and what about after the lockdown? Every effort will be made to assist Rasta, to options off the street, to look for family members who could assist him, to explore all alternatives. But 55 years living on the street is not something that just changes, that is the life that he knows.
But today it was a man and his dog that needed our assistance and I commend LE and SAPS with the manner in which this was approached and dealt with.”
For now, both Rasta and Sharni are safe and being cared for. The day they are reunited isn’t too far away and we are so glad people went out of their way to assist them both.