WATCH: City reveals what's next for Cape homeless after Strandfontein site closure
Cape Town - With the Strandfontein site officially closed and the homeless now scattered in various parts in Cape Town. The City of Cape Town has provided details as to what happens next.
On Thursday, the Western Cape Hight Court granted an order in favour of the City, which stated that they must immediately remove over 33 homeless people from the Strandfontein site and transport them to the provincial quarantine facility in Melkbostrand. It also stated that no more than 96 people must be accommodated no later than 31 May at a safe space for homeless people, currently being established by the City at the Culemborg site.
Mayco member for Community and Health Zahid Badroodien confirmed that the last of the homeless individuals at the Strandfontein Temporary Emergency Shelter were moved offsite on Thursday afternoon, which signaled the formal decommissioning of the site.
He provided clarification on what is happening with the homeless from the temporary Strandfontein shelter, their alternative accommodation, and the challenges that they have faced.
"It is unfortunate that it required further protracted proceedings initiated by the recently formed Homeless Action Committee," Badroodien said.
He said that of the 461 persons who were left on site in the last week, 61 returned to the street; 31 placed in quarantine, 356 placed in alternative shelters and 13 have been reintegrated into their communities.
"There have been numerous challenges with some of the occupants on site refusing to access the quarantine facilities that was prepared for them, notwithstanding the fact that provision had been made for all close contacts to be quarantined at an appropriate facility.
"The remaining individuals at the site were to be screened daily, which included routine temperature checks. These efforts were once again prevented and obstructed by a number of individuals associated with the Homeless Action Committee.
"All occupants were due to leave the site on 19 May 2020 and the City made the necessary arrangements. The group, however, refused to do so stating that their legal representative had instructed them to remain at the site. Upon informing their legal representative of this, the City was made aware that this was in fact not the case," Badroodien said.
He said the Homeless Action Committee misled their legal representative by alleging that they were exposed to a patient who tested positive with Covid-19, however, Badroodien said there were no patients at the quarantine facility. As a result the legal representatives eventually withdrew from acting for the Homeless Action Committee.
Closure of Strandfontein temporary shelter and alternative accommodation
More than a hundred of homeless people who previously resided at the Strandfontein came were dropped off at the expanded Culemborg site late on Thursday night.
Carlos Mesquita, who was among those transported from the Strandfontein site said that they had arrived at 8pm, "We were left to our own devices and the Human Rights Commission was on site and provided soup and bread for us and are organising blankets this morning. We are basically just demanding that the promises that were made to us that the 250 spaces at the Culemborg site will be available to us, we have been told that the City has reduced it to 96 despite promises of 250."
Badroodien dismissed allegations that the City has dumped the homeless under a bridge in the CBD, and emphasised that if a homeless person chooses not to access a shelter, the City cannot place an individual in a shelter without their consent.
"Our Street People Unit will engage with those camping outside the site to offer assistance to the smaller shelters that are ready to welcome them at the Haven Night Shelter, Oasis Reach for Your Dream, Ubuntu Circle of Courage, TASP and the Cape Flats YMCA.
"We have managed to redirect a number of people to alternative shelters already. These individuals have indicated that they would like continued care and assistance in a shelter environment. At the end of May, the City will reopen the initial temporary shelter at Culemborg in the CBD, next to our Safe Space, where the last group of Strandfontein occupants will be accommodated, in line with the court ruling.
"Those wishing to access the smaller shelters will still be assisted to do so."
The City has appealed to residents and organisations to give dignity to the homeless community by giving responsibly.
They said that in the process of giving food, clothing and money to the homeless community, people must remember the established shelter and relief organisations that offer support and safety during this period.
"Please rather take feeding projects or dry ingredients to existing shelters or organisations that help our homeless, instead of giving indiscriminately to homeless individuals on streets and by so doing preventing them from accessing more sustainable and meaningful forms of assistance and shelter," Badroodien said.