Refugees in the Cape Town city centre. Photo: Supplied
Refugees in the Cape Town city centre. Photo: Supplied

Refugees on Cape Town streets in lockdown

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Mar 28, 2020

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Cape Town - Foreign nationals and refugees were still living on the streets of Cape Town City Centre after the lockdown began on Friday, and their circumstances puts them at an increased risk of being infected with Covid-19 or any other infectious disease.

It is estimated that there are more than 200 refugees living on the streets around the Cape Town Central Police Station and District Six Museum around Buitenkant and Harrington streets. 

None of the men, women or children wore masks or appeared to be maintaining the recommended social distance from one another while they sat or laid on the pavement.

Children were playing in any available open space while space was made for women to braid their hair, people to eat, sleep, wash and pray on the pavements. Their homes are makeshift shelters of plastic sheets and hygiene is not ideal.

One of the group leader's Lubangi Bin Lutula, said that they have not been given any assistance from health officials. “No one has come here to help us….we don’t have masks,” he said.

With so many people in one place and sleeping in such close quarters, Bin Lutula said they are doing all they can to ensure that no one gets ill.

Refugees in the Cape Town city centre. Photo: Supplied

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said they are working with the national government to find alternative accommodation for the group. 

''Primary healthcare facilities remain available for the refugees to use. 

“The close proximity that they are dwelling in is not ideal in light of Covid-19. Teams have engaged the group to educate them about the risks of the virus and how to prevent it. Basic hand washing, basic hygiene, and social distancing are key principles that will keep the virus at bay,” said Plato.

The impasse between the City and the refugees continues and daily the health risks increase.

When questioned about their living conditions, Bin Lutula said: “There’s nothing else we can do...this is how it is for now."

Weekend Argus

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