Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

City releasing a health time bomb onto the streets of Cape Town, says ANC caucus

By ANA Reporter Time of article published May 13, 2020

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Cape Town - The ANC caucus in the Western Cape Legislature on Tuesday has said in a statement the City of Cape Town's "decision to send homeless people from Strandfontein camp back to the streets of Cape Town" is "irresponsible".

"It is like the City has sent a time bomb into Cape Town," the provincial ANC said.

"In the wake of the President Ramaphosa declaring a national state of disaster in the middle of March, the City of Cape Town established the Strandfontein camp to accommodate homeless people as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"By law, municipalities are required to house homeless people during the lockdown," it said.

However, earlier media reports cite Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien saying that the City was still committed to helping the homeless. 

He said in a Cape Argus report on Tuesday that many of the people who had been accommodated at Strandfontein had preferred to return to the streets and that in terms of level 4 regulations, the City no longer had the authority to remove homeless people from the streets "without their consent".

He also said that the City was working with existing shelters to deal with accommodation for homeless people in more permanent structures that would be around beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ANC said that while it had taken the City to court to force it to close the Strandfontein facility, which it likened to a concentration camp, the route that the DA had taken subsequently was not acceptable.

"We visited the camp and found no social distancing, no mattresses, inconsistent provision of meals. We also heard complaints from city volunteers that they were not provided with masks and sanitisers. 

"Some law enforcement officers said that they had to buy their own sanitisers. At no stage were our councillors provided with an operational plan for the establishment of the camp. All along we have maintained that the homeless should be accommodated in small decentralised venues across the city."

"Residents in this area were not consulted, while the camp was then closed to elected public representatives, among them MPs and councillors."

The ANC said that relocation to facilities owned by the metro across the city should take place after consultation with recognised NGOs and the homeless people themselves. 

“We have maintained that the facility is a health time bomb that will explode in the City’s face. Our position is unchanged."

However, the ANC says that allowing homeless people to leave Strandfontein with no apparent plan to accommodate them is catastrophic. 

"If they presented a health risk in March, surely that risk must have escalated while they were held in Strandfontein?" it said.

“Releasing them now is reckless and dangerous to themselves and others. In fact, some of them have tested positive for Covid-19, while others have opportunistic diseases such as TB. This is a very cruel and heartless move by the DA-led City.”

The ANC said the City has closed at least six clinics "from Milnerton to Gugulethu to Silvertown, because the staff there had tested positive".

“Clearly not one of those homeless people who have departed Strandfontein will be able to use one of the affected clinics. We believe that the City is gambling with the health of Capetonians," it said, even though some were expected to be reopened by next Monday.

The ANC called for a transparent plan to show where and how homeless people will be accommodated.

African News Agency/ANA

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