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City of Cape Town, communities in stand-off over homeless, refugees amid lockdown

Refugees and the homeless are in the middle of a stand-off between the communities, the City and the national government over plans to relocate them Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Refugees and the homeless are in the middle of a stand-off between the communities, the City and the national government over plans to relocate them Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 6, 2020

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Cape Town - Refugees and the homeless are in the middle of a stand-off between the communities, the City and the national government over plans to relocate them to different sites.

The Wingfield Military site in Goodwood has been earmarked to accommodate the homeless after it was first agreed that the refugees scattered on the streets in District Six would be accommodated at the old military base. However, it seems the City has now done a U-turn on its decision.

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At the weekend the Goodwood Ratepayers Association (GRA) and Kensington, Factreton Residents and Ratepayers Association (KFRRA) had a meeting with mayor Dan Plato.

By Sunday nine people had died of Covid-19 and 1585 infections reported, 433 in the Western Cape.

GRA chairperson Faisal Petersen said: “Our first concern was that there was a plan to move the refugees to Wingfield and our concern was their general disregard for law and order.

“The mayor assured us that the homeless will be moved to the tented set-up. Obviously there is no indication as to how long this would be for. There are bigger plans for this site in the future. Our other concern was that because there is an existing squatter camp, this would lead to xenophobic attacks. We have many criminals disguised as homeless. The refugees will be kept at the Bellville site.”

Petersen said the mayor gave them assurance that the refugees would be moved to Paint City in Bellville while the homeless around Goodwood, Kensington, Factreton and surrounding areas were being moved to Wingfield.

“The plain and simple truth is that there are too many unanswered questions. We know for sure that the communities of Goodwood, Kensington, Factreton and surrounding areas will be the losers because we will sit with the mess left behind by these people making decisions for us all like we have no value, no rights and no say,” Petersen said.

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Homeless people from different areas like Culemborg and Muizenberg have been relocated to shelters in Strandfontein by the City of Cape Town. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Refugees and the homeless are in the middle of a stand-off between the communities, the City and the national government over plans to relocate them. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency

KFRRA chairperson Leslie John Swartz said: “The association is deeply concerned for the health of the community of Kensington and Factreton and the Methodist Church refugees, especially during the national lockdown. This relocation will add to an already burdened and frustrated group of people, and is a recipe for disaster.”

There’s been a glaring lack of clarity involving the relocation of both the homeless and refugees. Confusion started mounting last week after over 600 foreign nationals who had been living at the Methodist Church were removed by police.

“There was uncertainty as to who would provide ablution facilities at the site after Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille and the City blamed each other for the lack of proper facilities at the site.”

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Mayor Dan Plato said: “The Wingfield site was identified by Minister De Lille as being owned by her department, and she instructed that it be used by the City for the housing of the non-nationals in our city. Unfortunately, for reasons that are still unknown to me, the removal of the refugees from the church at Greenmarket Square on Thursday carried out by SAPS was premature and did not conform to our agreement in this regard.

“The Wingfield site was not yet ready for occupation and the church refugees were moved to the Paint City site by SAPS without the City’s agreement, while that site was also not yet ready. The result is that the accommodation of over 500 persons currently at that site is not compliant with the applicable Covid-19 regulations and this may well result in a further relocation being required in due course.”

Meanwhile, yesterday tents were erected on the Strandfontein sports field that has the potential to accommodate 2500 to 3000 homeless people.

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Residents of the area have accused the City of not consulting with

them.

Strandfontein Ratepayers and Residents Association chairperson Mario Oostendurp said: “The City appears to be making full use of the lockdown to purposely keep our community in the dark.

“We have yet to be informed of the total number of persons being housed on the (sports) complex.

@MarvinCharles17

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Related Topics:

City of Cape Town

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