Cape Town - ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore has lashed out at the City of Cape Town's relocation of around 2 000 homeless people to the Strandfontein sports complex, branding it "a recipe for disaster" after visiting the site on Friday.
The City started relocating scores of homeless people to the site late last week in accordance with the government's stipulation that all municipalities had to provide suitable accommodation for their indigent for the duration of the national lockdown which is aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.
Strandfontein residents, as well as many homeless people, were vehemently opposed to the move and as early as Tuesday there were reports of unrest, including stone throwing, at the complex.
Dugmore, the leader of the official opposition in the Western Cape legislature, says he and ANC MPL Baku Baku Vos met with community leaders to hear their concerns before proceeding to the site where they were denied access. He says they entered the camp after requests for the camp co-ordinator to show them around were ignored.
Once inside, Dugmore clashed with Cape Town mayoral committee for safety and security JP Smith in full view of a group of journalists. They locked horns about the lack of protective gear for law enforcement officers and volunteers as well as the living conditions of the camp's inhabitants who spoke to Dugmore and Vos.
Dugmore insisted that the City needs to "listen to people" and "be less arrogant" because the situation at the centre was not acceptable.
Homeless people at the Strandfontein centre are frustrated because, they say, they are being kept there against their will. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Commenting after the visit Dugmore said: "The City must own up to the disaster they themselves have created.
"You cannot expect one community, Strandfontein - to take responsibility for the entire challenge of housing street people and the homeless from the entire metro area. It’s a recipe for disaster.
A homeless man at the Strandfontein shelter begs to leave as he no longer wants to be on lockdown. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
"The Mayor and and his Mayco ignored the advice from our Councillors and many other NGOs.
"Street people don’t come from the air. They come from communities across the province . We need a localized, decentralized approach," he said.
Homeless people at the Strandfontein shelter being fed by staff from the Jabulani NGO. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Dugmore shared the following findings from the visit:
1.Volunteers have not been given any sanitizers , masks , gloves
2. Law enforcement officers told us they had to buy own sanitizers
3. There are no mattresses in tents we visited
4. Homeless complain that they are not getting three meals a day
5. Some homeless saying they were forced to come here
6. Others say that couples were promised tents that they could share alone
7. Homeless complained that no soap provided in mobile shower.
"I want to emphasize that these observations are based on our visit to one of the marquees. That is what we saw with our own eyes," Dugmore said on Thursday evening.