Homeless moved from Strandfontein site

Homeless leave the Strandfontein Sports Complex temporary shelter in droves. The homeless were screened for the coronavirus and moved from the facility on trucks.

The Western Cape High Court ruled that the City of Cape Town, immediately move and transport at least
33 people whose names appear
on a list attached to the court
order from the Strandfontein emergency shelter to the provincial quarantine facility in Melkbosstrand where they are to be kept in quarantine until this was no longer necessary.

The last of the homeless at the Strandfontein temporary emergency shelter were moved off site on Thursday May 21 in the afternoon, which signalled the official decommissioning of the site.

A woman from The Haven tent 2 also tested positive for Covid-19. She had been tested at the site three times but only tested positive during testing by a non-governmental organisation after she left the site on Monday May 11.

The site had gone into lockdown, and those who came into contact with her had to be tested said, Lucien Lewin, an attorney and director at Dingley Marshall Inc.

This after an order granted by the court supported the City’s efforts to assist the homeless with alternative shelter placement.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said it was “unfortunate” that it had required further protracted proceedings initiated by the recently formed Homeless Action Committee.

The court found that all close contacts of the Covid-19 positive individual linked to Strandfontein be offered accommodation at a quarantine facility until it was no longer required, the Homeless Action Committee be removed to the smaller prepared facilities until the Culemborg expansion was completed, which they were not obliged to accept, and the City would facilitate the transport of individuals from the smaller shelters to Culemborg upon its completion, said Dr Badroodien.

However, Carlos Mesquita, spokesman for the Homeless Action Committee, said when four buses made their way to the site, there was no indication regarding where the they were going. “Some people were helping others pack, some names weren’t on the list and most of them left with no additional items of clothing or bedding they were given at the site,” he said.

Of the 461 people who were left on site in the past week, 61 returned to the street; 31 have been placed in quarantine, 356 have been placed in alternative shelters and 13 have been reintegrated into their communities, Dr Badroodien said.

However, Mr Mesquita said more than 150 people who had been “dumped” in the middle of the night outside the Culemborg site, were without services. They did not choose the “back to the streets” option but rather people chose the Culemburg shelter option, which they had put on the table.

The City initially proposed 250 bed spaces at the Culemborg site that has now been reduced to 96. How is this shortfall of beds available at this space going to be addressed for the other half of individuals who do not make the list of 96, asked Mr Mesquita.

The City dropped 150 individuals who were promised accommodation at the site “without basic services to wait out at the City’s ill-planned opening of the space on Sunday May 31.

“Having known about the Strandfontein closure planned for Wednesday May 20, why only start work on the site on the Monday, causing a potential crisis?” he said.

“The rights of all, particularly the most defenceless members of society, are protected in our Constitution.

“These constitutional guarantees protect and trump the undemocratic actions of politicians,” said Cameron Dugmore, ANC member in the provincial legislature and leader of the official opposition in the legislature.

“Our only concern was if the site closes, where will we go, will shelters host us, will it be enough for all? The City was aware of our unhappiness. I am not interested in political fights, I care about my people and our well-being,” said Mr Mesquita.

“I was one of the 150 dumped on the street though I was meant to be on the bus to Melkbos due to the City’s lack of organisation on boarding the buses. I, and the other 149 individuals dumped on the street by the City, were by God’s grace approached and agreed to be moved last night (Monday May 25), temporarily, when the wind and rain became a huge challenge, to a building in the CBD organised by a humanitarian group,” said Mr Mesquita.

The court declared that this group must be provided with adequate shelter and bedding, handed to them on departure from the site, be given three meals a day, as well as clean drinking water; and adequate sanitation.

Appropriate measures must be in place to prevent Covid-19 infection, including physical distancing and the provision of hand sanitiser and masks in line with the Department of Health guidelines.

These people will be permitted to leave the site for up to three hours per day to access essential goods, social and health care services at the Culemborg space.

The court declared that after the closure of the Strandfontein site until the accommodation at the Culemborg space is available, the persons represented by the first applicant would be provided with accommodation at existing shelters managed by non-governmental organisations in Cape Town, the temporary shelters, which they are not obliged to take up.