As the first week of the national lockdown comes to a close, the City of Cape Town finds itself scrambling to place some 4000 homeless people in a proper shelter to aid in flattening the curve of Covid-19. After facing flak from the public for rounding up street people and shoving them into tents under the foreshore in the CBD, the City has since decided to relocate this vulnerable grouping onto a sports field in Strandfontein. However, this decision has come with its own complications as residents of the Strandfontein Ratespayers Association claim they were not informed prior to the decision to move the homeless into their community.
Mayor Dan Plato said a number of sites were initially considered, but further consultations led them to the conclusion that the chosen facility would suit better both in terms of logistics and management of the site.
“In addition to that the sports complex in Strandfontein is close to a main road, easy access but also the established infrastructure on the complex is very limited with only a handful of buildings so the risk of vandalism is minimized,” said Mayco Member for community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien.
Badroodien said he understands that there is a lot of frustration in the community but it needs to be understood that an extensive search has gone underway to ensure the most suitable place is found to both house and protect the homeless.
Preparations for the site would include the erection of tents and ablution facilities.
Disgruntled residents however have challenged the City on why a resort like Blue Waters could not be used instead.
“In 2008 we housed refugees there due to xenophobic attacks. What we learned was the chalets that are on these facilities were invaded and damaged. As a result of vandalism, it cost the City R200 000,” stated Badroodien.
As a token of appreciation to the community Badroodien said once the lockdown period ended the City would upgrade and restore the sports ground.
Another one of the concerns from the residents was the spread of Covid-19 by the thousands of homeless persons being brought into the community. But Badroodien assured residents that proper protocols will be adhered to.
“Part of our operation is to have strict screening protocol before movement to the facility and at the facility, and also additionally at the complex we have identified a medical service to be made available to the people being housed on the sports ground,” guaranteed Badroodien.
Finally, security measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of both residents of Strandfontien and the people residing within the complex.
“We have a center where Law Enforcement will be based, inner and outer fence patrolling. The South African Police Service will also be involved, so there’s an extensive partnership,” said Badroodien.
Anyone who wants to provide donations for the Strandfontein camp should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOC attempted to contact the Strandfontein Ratepayers Association but they were not available for comment.