Tshwane stakeholders sign contract committed to combat homelessness
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane has renewed its commitment to combat homelessness across Tshwane as the global pandemic laid bare the plight faced by men, women and children forced to live without proper homes.
MMC for Community and Social Development Thabisile Vilakazi and her counterpart in the Department of Health Sakkie Du Plooy led the signing of a social contract put together by stakeholders including the City, non-profit organisations fighting homelessness, the University of Pretoria and Unisa.
Stephan de Beer of the University of Pretoria highlighted how a report that revealed that in 21 days,the City and stakeholders were able to achieve what it could not achieve in 10 years when it placed 2 000 homeless people in 25 Covid-19 shelters and placed homeless people who struggled with substance abuse and addiction in intensive recovery programmes.
Stakeholders appreciated the political will from leaders in the City of Tshwane because they came to find that it appeared there was always a lack of benefit for many leaders to invest money to help a small group of people who did not vote, leaving the churches and people with good hearts to come in and help the homeless. This was, however, said to be insufficient to deal with homelessness.
Vilakazi said this contract was the first of its kind in the whole country and the City was proud to commit itself to address the challenges of homelessness by supporting registered organisations and appropriate interventions to ensure the provision of resources and shelters. This includes supporting Tshwane homelessness policies and plans throughout all departments.
She said the City acknowledged homelessness as a challenge in the City of Tshwane and agrees to work to provide a home for all people who live in it, as part of its strategic objectives.
Vilakazi said: “As partners in this social contract we acknowledge the importance of working together. We are jointly committed to eradicate homelessness within the City. Today we are committing to working with our partners in establishing a common vision for a City that is home to all, and creating a wider and deeper awareness regarding homelessness.
Before signing the contract, Vilakazi said: "We are saying as the City of Tshwane that we are here and willing to hold hands with you as we are moving forward.”
Tshwane Homelessness Forum secretary Buang Mfumane said the social contract was very critical in eradicating all forms of homelessness in Tshwane and to pave the way for a future where none of the residents would ever need to sleep in the streets or abandoned buildings.
He said the forum which has collaborations with NGOs and experts from the university came across a lot of challenges, such as current shelters which house homeless people but do not yet have leases they needed to source assistance. He also said the City must also help these shelters as they are often hit by high rates and taxes bills from the municipality.
He said the forum believed that the City has the power to change the situation where homelessness was concerned by continuing to work with all stakeholders working to eliminate homelessness from society.
Professor Steward Mathata from Unisa said the signing of the contract should ensure that the issue of eradicating homelessness was not just looked at as an issue of charity engagement, but it should however be an effort to also eradicate the culture of dependency and the culture of entitlement.