South Africa provides temporary shelter for homeless people over covid-19
London, March 30, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Homeless people in South Africa have been encouraged to move to temporary shelters provided by their respective provinces during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown
In his nationwide address to announce the lockdown, President Cyril Ramaphosa said temporary shelters must be identified to accommodate homeless people for at least 21 days.
Provincial and municipal governments across the country have been scrambling to put Ramaphosa’s order into effect particularly those with drug and alcohol addictions and mental illnesses.
Gauteng’s acting Social Development MEC Panyaza Lesufi toured the province on Thursday and met with the homeless in the Johannesburg and Tshwane CBDs, the Vaal and West Rand to persuade them to move into shelters.
“That’s the only way to speak to them, persuade them,” he told Power 98.7 on Friday morning.
“They really feel neglected, unattended and that their rights are violated. They say, ‘These are our homes, don’t force us if you want us to go to those facilities, just notify us, allow us to apply our minds and if we want to come, we’ll come,’” said Lesufi.
The Gauteng government is working with 241 NGOs and facilities that have the capacity to house the homeless during the lockdown. Thirty boarding schools have agreed to host the homeless if shelters are full, said Lesufi.
In a briefing, he said the government would provide food and clothing to those who moved willingly.
According to regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act, during the lockdown period, “a person refusing to be evacuated from any place subject to lockdown, may be evacuated by an enforcement officer to a temporary shelter if such action is necessary for the preservation of life”.
Lesufi said on Friday morning that the government would use the 21-day lockdown to try to provide the homeless with “soft skills” to help them integrate back into their families and communities.
A reporter of a South African leading online news portal, Daily Maverick who spoke with two homeless people narrated how one homeless man fled from being re-homed. He said the government had been moving the homeless into shelters and he fled to Lenasia because he’d heard of people starving in the past when the government “rescued” them.
In the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town said that they were still finalising “additional temporary shelter options,” according to Community Services and Health Mayoral Committee Member Zahid Badroodien on Thursday afternoon.
According to a press statement released later that evening, the metropolitan municipality announced that Paint City, a warehouse in Bellville, was one of the shelter facilities for both the shutdown period and the foreseeable future.
According to Badroodien, the facility can only accommodate 200 people due to social distancing. On Friday morning, Badroodien said the City of Cape Town’s safety and security unit would likely assist with transporting the homeless to temporary shelter. This should be finalised by the end of day on Friday.
“It will provide the city’s homeless with sanitation and electrical provision, and an opportunity to safely self-isolate in a protected environment,” the statement read, although there was no clarity on food provision.
Cape Town has over 7,000 homeless people.
The city is also expanding the “safe space” under the Culemborg bridge in the city’s centre to have roughly 200 plus beds. Existing shelters have been asked to identify vacant land next to their facilities where prefabs can be set up for extra beds and negotiations are under way with Western Cape Province to use some of its buildings. All these plans are still being finalised.