Mayor of the City of Cape Town Dan Plato addresses the media about the situation at the Strandfontein Homeless Shelter during the national lockdown, which has been extended to the end of April. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Mayor of the City of Cape Town Dan Plato addresses the media about the situation at the Strandfontein Homeless Shelter during the national lockdown, which has been extended to the end of April. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Politicising Strandfontein rape allegation 'shameful': Mayor Dan Plato

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 13, 2020

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Durban - The City of Cape Town has decried what it calls the politicisation of the Strandfontein temporary homeless camp where an 18-year-old girl was allegedly raped and called on the public and political parties to give police the space to investigate.

Dan Plato, the Mayor of Cape Town said that law enforcement officials from the City of Cape Town responded immediately when an allegation of sexual assault was made and the city was working with the Police Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit to investigate the allegation.

"Any accusation of sexual assault is an incredibly sensitive matter and the City is doing everything possible to ensure that it is handled in a manner befitting the situation. I find it alarming that some political parties have already seized on the opportunity to turn this into a political matter. No facts have been determined yet, so it is entirely inappropriate for an opposition political party to state as fact that an 18-year-old was raped. At this point, we can provide no details as the matter is under investigation. I have called on the SAPS to conduct and conclude their investigation with urgency so that we can provide the facts to the public of Cape Town in an environment where half-truths and misinformation is being spread like wildfire," he said in a statement.

Cape Town police spokesperson, Colonel Andrè Traut said on Sunday, however, that a 36-year-old man was arrested in connection with the rape and was expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

Residents of Strandfontein have expressed their unhappiness at the relocation of around 2 000 homeless people to their area and homeless people housed at the camp have described it as akin to living in a concentration camp.

The ANC caucus in the Western Cape has demanded the immediate closure of the Strandfontein temporary camp saying that setting up the camp unilaterally was a "recipe for disaster".

Plato disagreed and said the camp was set up under the instruction of the national disaster regulations published by the national government. 

"We have explained the reasons for the location of the site, and we have provided an extensive list of the services that have been made available at the site. We were further advised by experienced NGO partners who care for the homeless community that housing people in social groups would avoid unnecessary tensions. Despite claims to the contrary, no person is kept on-site against their will, as has been proven by the relocation of a group back to Somerset West last week. The city is going to great lengths to ensure the wellbeing of those on-site, in accordance with the regulations of the disaster declaration," he said.

Plato said that they were working to address any of the shortcomings that have been identified and that municipalities across the country have had to act with little preparation time and we are doing the best we can to provide these services under a very challenging time.

"One of the benefits of providing the temporary shelter is that hundreds of people have been screened for Covid-19 and Tuberculosis, and those requiring medical treatment have been seen as a result. This might likely not have happened if they had remained on the street. The ongoing political point-scoring in a time of one of the greatest health crises to face our country, and the globe, is shameful.  The malicious misinformation that is being spread is a disservice to the many organisations who have pulled together, with very little lead time, to provide this service. We appeal to all organisations to respect the privacy of the individual who has reported this alleged rape so that the police processes may be allowed to be concluded as quickly as possible," Plato said.

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