Facility to house homeless people opens as SA prepares for lockdown

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About 800 homeless people in Durban are expected to be thrown a lockdown lifeline on Thursday, with the opening of the first facility to house them. This as South Africa enters a 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown comes into effect at midnight Thursday. Durban has more than 3 500 homeless people.

Director of the Dennis Hurley Centre – a Non-Governmental Organisation that works with persons who are homeless, refugees and addicts in Durban – Raymond Perrier says all entrants into the facility will be screened before entry.

Perrier says it would be extremely difficult for these vulnerable people to be locked down without help. “We will obviously separate men and women. if there are any children they’ll be with the women and then we are also looking at how we can keep people from killing each other. Being locked up there is no different from being locked up at home. So, how do we give people activities? In many ways, it’s a good opportunity to work with homeless people, to give them a chance to look at their lives. We’ll do some educational and transformation work. Maybe get people looking at their drug issues as well.”

Perrier faced many questions from the homeless people particularly those who are addicted to drugs.

“We can’t give you what you’re addicted to. We can give medication to help with the withdrawal.”

In the video below, Red Cross Society’s George Mamabolo says volunteers from the organisation will be out to support the homeless during the lockdown: 

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town says it has been in constant meetings with stakeholders to find solutions around the homeless people across the city.

The Mayoral Committee Member responsible for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien, says they are trying to locate suitable locations to house homeless people.

“Homeless shelters remain open. The City is in the process of identifying large locations across the municipality,  large sports fields, to house our street communities. These facilities are temporary; open to anyone. It is a difficult and trying time. We are grateful to our partners for providing assistance as we move on to lockdown.”