The controversial CEO Sleepout will take place again next year, possibly on Robben Island, in spite of criticism of the fundraising event, spokesperson Yusuf Abramjee said on Saturday.
“The event has received some criticism on social media. People are entitled to their opinions, but the reality is that the Sun International #CEOSleepOut2016 is making a real difference,” said Abramjee.
The sleepout involves getting heads of companies to pledge money for charity and, in turn, they get to sleep on the pavement in the middle of winter to feel what it is like to be homeless.
This year it was held on the Nelson Mandela bridge in Johannesburg on Thursday night, to the chagrin of protesters who were removed by police.
Critics regard the event as “poverty porn”, saying the homeless themselves are excluded from attending, and have questioned whether it is an authentic experience of homelessness.
@Shaeera_k tweeted: “Student protester shot in the eye with a rubber bullet at #CEOSleepout2016.
Do you still need us to explain what’s wrong with this s**t?”
Abramjee said the sleepout was a major success, with millions of rands committed for educational causes and hundreds of homeless people getting help.
“Pledges are in excess of R25-million. Gift of the Givers and Operation Snowball distributed clothing and blankets to hundreds of homeless people on Friday, thanks to the sleepout,” Abramjee said.
He said the event showed the country was caring and added quotes suggesting support from Public protector Thuli Madonsela, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and former Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale.
According to Abramjee, Sexwale wants it to be held on Robben Island next year on Mandela Day.
He added that over 60 schools, 10 universities and colleges and 40 companies took part in the school, student and sympathy sleepouts this year.
Among these was a gathering of hundreds of people in Laudium, Pretoria on Friday night.
“We salute the thousands of people who have come out to support and we will continue to assist where we can.”
There were plans to hold it in other parts of the continent. – News24