Refugees at the Bellville taxi rank are pleading for help as their shower cubicles have been withdrawn. They fear the toilet facilities will be next. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Refugees at the Bellville taxi rank are pleading for help as their shower cubicles have been withdrawn. They fear the toilet facilities will be next. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Bellville refugees fear for their health after shower blocks withdrawn

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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Cape Town – Hundreds of refugees at the Bellville Paint City camp are once again fearing for their health after the withdrawal of their shower facilities following the expiry of the contract to provide them. They now fear that the withdrawal of their ablution blocks will follow.

Until Monday morning, when workers came to disconnect the showers, there were 20 shower cubicles and 12 ablution blocks at the site.

A couple of taps used mainly for laundry are now the only sources of running water.

The alarm was raised on Monday by Women and Children Concern (WCC) secretary Hafiz Mohammed, who speaks on behalf of the refugees.

Mohammed said: “The workers who came to disconnect the showers and take them away told us they were just doing their job. We had no advance warning in the form of a letter from the authorities letting us know this was going to happen.

“From what I hear they will also take the toilets back, but the toilets belong to a different contractor.

“The problem is that when the showers and the toilets came after the Department of Public Works took their toilets nobody told us who had brought them here. We were just happy to have them.”

Another spokesperson for the refugees, who would only give her name as Mama Mary said: “You must tell the world how we are suffering here with our children. It’s like we have been forgotten.”

The shower and ablution facilities were first withdrawn in November last year by the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), which unilaterally withdrew sanitation facilities.

Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

The City also appears to have washed its hands off the situation, responding to queries from the Argus with one line: “The enquiry should be directed to the Department of Home Affairs and national government.”

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said they were aware of the matter and were resolving it. Although by midday yesterday (Tuesday) the showers had yet to be returned.

“The provision of these facilities and services is a temporary measure offered on humanitarian grounds while we are approaching the courts for an eviction order.

“The protesters in Paint City have rejected all offers, including reintegration or voluntary repatriation to countries of their origin,’’ said Koza.

Cape Argus

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