Tshwane’s homeless shelters have changed many lives during Covid-19 pandemic
Pretoria – Shelters for homeless people in the City of Tshwane have changed and improved the lives of the many people they took in when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the capital last year.
Homeless people and activists expressed these remarks to MMC for Community and Social Development Services Thabisile Vilakazi and his counterpart in health, Sakkie du Plooy, at the Lyttelton Community Hall.
Vilakazi and Du Plooy yesterday visited the remaining five homeless shelters to donate relief packages to the homeless people who still depend on the shelters and several non-profit organisations.
They praised the non-profit organisations who have been at the forefront of the programme to assist and accommodate homeless people in 23 homeless shelters in Tshwane since last March.
They said it was impressive they had been able to witness some people changing their lives by quitting substance abuse and finding employment, to the extent the number of shelters shrunk as people did not need them anymore.
Notably, Du Plooy said in spite of the dire impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives of people in Tshwane, homeless people appeared to have been slightly more immune to the coronavirus than other people.
He said, based on the feedback from people who were actively involved in the shelters, such as professionals from the University of Pretoria, only a few people in the shelters contracted the coronavirus.
Vilakazi said: “We do have our social workers who are hands on in trying to reunite them (the homeless) with their families and some of them have been reunited already.
“We are saying we want homeless people to be taken seriously because they matter. I have requested every shelter to make sure that they are trained and nurtured to grow the skills they already have. We are turning around the stigma about people living on the streets not mattering.”
Centre manager and former homeless person Teboho Mpufane said Centurion was blessed to have four entities that came together to help immediately when President Cyril Ramaphosa made an announcement for the homeless to be aided.
He said the Centurion Haven of Hope, Hennops Revival, There to Love, and the Doringkloof Family Church worked tirelessly throughout even though it was tough at times as the City was under administration for some time, negatively affecting some programmes.
Beneficiaries Dane Schroeder, 25, and Prince Mahlangu, 34, said Tshwane residents, NPOs, government and companies came through for the homeless, many of whom did not need to be in shelters today.
Schroeder now has a job as a waiter and Mahlangu not only quit substance abuse and crime, but is now helping other people struggling to give up the habits.
Du Plooy said they did not have the full statistics about everything just yet.