The City fears that opening up a safe space at Paint City in Bellville to the homeless could create conflict with foreign nationals who were first moved there. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
The City fears that opening up a safe space at Paint City in Bellville to the homeless could create conflict with foreign nationals who were first moved there. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 lockdown: Fears over having Cape homeless, refugees in one space

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Apr 21, 2020

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town fears that opening up a safe space at Paint City in Bellville to the homeless could create conflict with foreign nationals who were first moved there.

According to the City, they have called for an urgent meeting with the national government to clarify who they should supply amenities for.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said: “It will run with amenities and for the time being the shelters will be configured. The problem is the refugees are placed there and it has created problems. It was recommended that it could cause conflict and it can stay closed. They have deployed private security and it will create confusion for them. We will be providing food to the homeless and not to the refugees. There’s a

possibility it could lead to conflict.”

Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille and City officials conducted a site visit to Paint City earlier this month where temporary accommodation for refugees was being erected.

De Lille’s department erected a marquee for the refugees who were occupying the central Methodist church in Greenmarket square for months. Initially, the refugees rejected the site as “throwing us out is not the solution” amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“There’s a site inspection under way; 180 people will be moving in and we have asked for an urgent meeting with the national government.

“Paint City has been coming for a while and it’s not linked to the Covid-19,” Smith said.

He said the City would supply food to the homeless who would be staying adjacent to the refugees but had requested for an urgent meeting with government.

He said even the SA Human Rights Commission warned the City and government about the move saying that it could mean conflict.

SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen said: “there was no fence and I had recommended a fence being built I am wary on how these groups will interact.

“Once they are in they will be locked up, they won’t be able to let people out because at Strandfontein that is happening. It will create a further problem. The City and department have been given a responsibility to find a solution and the plans were reintegration or deportation The situation has changed; they still have a responsibility towards the refugees to resolve the situation.”

Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said the department was unaware of the City’s plans.

@MarvinCharles17

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