File picture: Courtney Africa.

DURBAN - The eThekwini Municipality on Tuesday said it would establish a multi-sectoral task team to deal with issues related to homelessness within the city.

A report tabled at the executive committee meeting recommended for an establishment of an integrated council programme of action as well as a multi-sectoral partnership to support the needs of the homeless in the city and provide a platform for stakeholders within and outside government to find a solution-based approach to the plight.

This comes after a stakeholder workshop held earlier this month to discuss issues related to homelessness and social ills in the city. The city has been plagued by a spike of homeless people and vagrants who occupy public spaces in the past few years. 

eThekiwni Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer said that there were many units in the city who were trying to tackle this issue on their own, but now they needed to apply their minds and respond with one voice. 

Peer said the city was trying its best to deal effectively with the homeless, but cannot equate being homeless with drug abuse and criminality.

"That is why this task team is so important. It should also be noted that it is a societal problem that requires all hands on deck. As a society we need to work towards resuscitating the family unit. That is where most our problems starts. A broken family unit usually breeds children that do not have any one to look up to," Peer said.

"Our families are plagued with fathers who are absent resulting in mothers having to double up as fathers. Surely some struggle to play a role of a father figure like their male counterparts. I am certain that once this is addressed, our society would gradually produce less children that are drug addicts roaming the streets."

Peer said the task team comprised of community members, business people, non-governmental organisations as well as a representative from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Task team members will head different aspects including reunification, drugs and infrastructure.

"There is good representation on the task team. Right now we have to apply our minds and come up with a budget as no funds have been allocated as yet. It is not easy to deal with the homeless issue in the City and the solution is not dumping them in a particular area. We are facing a mounting problem as the issue of homelessness is growing every day," Peer said.

Chairperson of the human settlements and infrastructure committee, Mondli Mthembu, supported the initiative, saying it was a good start to tackling this growing issue. 

Chairperson of the governance and human resources committee, Barbara Fortein, said the formation of the task team was a definite step in the right direction.

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

African News Agency (ANA)