Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo with Hope Exchange managing director Peter Solomon and in-house social worker Charity Poole.
Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo with Hope Exchange managing director Peter Solomon and in-house social worker Charity Poole.

Lack of IDs prevent homeless from registering to be vaccinated

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jul 7, 2021

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Cape Town - The lack of Identification will be a stumbling block for the homeless to get vaccinated.

This was ascertained during a fact-finding visit by Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo to the Hope Exchange Centre in Roeland Street, Zonnebloem, on Monday.

Hope Exchange managing director Peter Solomon said there were roughly 14 000 homeless people in the Cape Town metro.

“Our main objective is to help the homeless and we do that through a range of integrated and comprehensive social care services that has, as its objectives, want to improve the lives of those living on the streets, to promote human development and ultimately to end with reintegration and reunification of our homeless clients.”

In-house social worker, Charity Poole, said the centre provides ablution and laundry facilities, food and clothing, psycho-social support services as well as counselling and health-care services. The homeless clients are also assisted with applying for an identity document (ID) or grants they qualify for, as well as referrals to rehabilitation, shelter or old-age facilities.

Advisory board member, the Reverend Annie Kirke said without an ID, homeless people could not register for the vaccine or to vote in the upcoming elections. Of the 98 clients, 59 did not have IDs.

“We’ve so far spoken to the SA Human Rights Commission who have been fully supportive of the reissuing of IDs so that voter and vaccine registration can take place for street-based people.”

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the objective of the visit was to assess how many people were eligible to receive the vaccine, reasons prohibiting eligible homeless people from registering, and interventions to address these challenges.

“The vulnerable people are generally who the state should be prioritising because all the other people, they are able to be independent but the role of the state constitutionally, is to prioritise the vulnerable and the homeless clients is one of those,” said Mbombo.

“Most of the time, people refuse but they don't know what they are refusing. It might be because of the lack of information. We have to check and see how we’re able to persuade them.”

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