Political analyst Tinyiko Maluleke says it’s shameful that it took the coronavirus for government to remember that there are homeless people, as well as those without water.
As part of the 21-day lockdown measures, government has placed all homeless people in temporary shelters across the country to curb the spread of COVID-19. It has also been providing tanks for people without water, especially in rural areas and informal settlements.
Maluleke says it’s worrying that government has been reactive in providing the basic services it should have been providing on a regular basis.
“I suppose if we stretch our minds we could see these government interventions for the homeless, the rural and the poor as positive. But actually it’s a shame. It’s a shame that we had to wait for coronavirus before our government could think of buying Jojo tanks for poor people without water in rural areas. It’s a shame that we had to wait for coronavirus for government to begin to think about the homeless people in our city, and try to do something about their situation. I think it’s a crying shame.”
In Gauteng, Acting Social Development MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, has been heading the projecting of housing and feeding the homeless. He says that the number of homeless people has increased a lot.
“Firstly, let me acknowledge something that we didn’t acknowledge as government; that the number of homeless people that we had on our database was hopelessly wrong. The number has increased too much; it’s beyond what government thought we have homeless people. Unfortunately, the majority of those are related to drugs and alcohol. So what we’ve done now as government is to verify the numbers that we have and provide the support that we have.”
Maluleke warns those who’re suddenly being taken care of by government not to get too comfortable.
We are unveiling the new home for the homeless. We have now accommodated the last group of the homeless that needed shell. Thanks to all our social partners @gpgSocDev #GrowingGautengTogether pic.twitter.com/d1cUtzAq2D
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) April 6, 2020
In the video below, the plight of the homeless is under the spotlight as the government puts measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Those without homes have for over a week now been under the care of the state. Minister for Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, says they’ve been sending water tankers to rural villages and informal settlements where the citizens didn’t have water.
Mpumalanga mitigates water problems for rural communities by providing water tanks.
Some of the 125 homeless people being housed at a Community Hall in Kempton Park are just happy to be off the streets for now, even if their newly-found comfort may be short-lived.
“It’s a good place compared to where we live. There’s a big difference. We’re being fed, have an opportunity to bath, which we’re not used to. We’re just happy for water and a place to stay.”
MEC Lesufi says government is working on a number of options such as reconnecting these people with their families, doing a skills audit, helping them find jobs and to rehabilitate those with a drug problem. Some of the homeless people say they’ve already been engaged by social workers on the kind of assistance they require. However, if these efforts do not yield results, they are facing a strong possibility of again having to fend for themselves on the streets.
While still enjoying a much-needed break from the streets, these homeless have their fingers crossed for the best possible outcome.
My special salute to the following churches and institutions for their selfless loyalty to fellow citizens pic.twitter.com/lVEUwYWkbN
— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) April 5, 2020
Homeless in Cape Town
The City of Cape Town says three homeless people have been arrested after they broke out of their new site in Strandfontein. Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith says conflict broke out involving a newly arrived group of street people from Somerset West.
He says they were under the impression that they would be allowed to return to their areas after being screened at the site, and when it became clear that they were required to remain in Strandfontein, a few of them pulled down one of the internal fences and climbed over the perimeter wall.