I am writing to alert you to what the OCA and other Obs Community groups have been doing with regard to the COVID-19 epidemic.
1. The homeless
The situation of the homeless has been a big concern for many people in Observatory and across the Cape Town Metro. We have organized feeding and other support for the different homeless groups in the areas as part of a humanitarian response following the lockdown. This is part of a wider citizen-driven initiative (Cape Town CAN) to protect the most vulnerable in society under the threat of COVID-19. Inexplicably, the City has set up a mass relocation center at Strandfontein sports complex and moved about 1500 or more homeless people there. However, all accounts suggest that the accommodation at Strandfontein is extremely problematic, there is no practical social distancing nor means to maintain themselves safely. Locating a mass number of people in a big center without adequate provision to handwash or distance (300 people per tent) increases risks for COVID-19 transmission. More worrying, a recent report of a young woman being raped at the site raises the question about the adequacy of supervision and safety at the site.The Observatory Civic Association has joined with other Civics in calling on the City to adopt a decentralized approach and to work with local communities to support the homeless in local spaces, rather than a mass relocation, which, as we have seen, can have extremely dangerous consequences. This is how residents in Obs have been taking up the issue, though feeding and other support schemes. The Obs CAN have also called on the City to adopt a Shelter in Place strategy by supporting homeless groups to socially distance safely where they are, a strategy the OCA has supported, along with another Obs CAN letter doing the rounds. Ndifuna Ukwazi has also written to the President to seek intervention to halt the relocation of homeless persons to Strandfontein whilst it remains a safety and health hazard. The City recently replied to a lawyer’s letter from the Legal Resources Centre confirming that no homeless person can be forced to relocate to another site against their will.If you want to get involved in this work, join the Obs CAN at https://www.facebook.com/groups/207954483642332 or fill out a form at https://forms.gle/9tKyc9n83PmVngjd8. The Obs CAN group working with the Homeless is at https://chat.whatsapp.com/EUpiX0aigvtJ6RyjriewMO
As you know, the Minister of Health has called on all people in South Africa to use cloth face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19. Remember, this measure is IN ADDITION to regular hand washing, use of sanitizers and social distancing, and does not replace these measures. Masks have to be made carefully and used safely – meaning they should cover the nose and mouth, extend below your chin; don’t touch the mask while wearing; don’t share your mask with others and wash them with hot water and soap, then iron them, if you want to reuse them.If you would like to access a cloth mask from the Obs CAN group assisting, then contact Sarah from Obs CAN at https://chat.whatsapp.com/JuwxsxtIcsF6WDlt75bkMT or at 073 307 0637. They are not for sale, but we would appreciate donations being made to the Food Relief for various homeless groups being organized by Obs CAN. You can contribute toAccount holder: International Association for Human Values (IAHV)
Bank: First National Bank
Branch: 250737, Lenasia
Reference: Obspasta + your nameBut please remember that a face mask alone will NOT be enough to protect you from COVID-19. This will be a false sense of security. Please make sure to do all the other measures recommended.
When the lockdown started, the OCA had to close the parking lot at Pepper Square behind Spar, meaning leaving the booms open while the staff has stayed home. The OCA decided to continue paying the wages for the staff for the duration of the three-week shut down as our commitment to helping to cushion the most marginal of our community from the hardships of the lockdown. However, the lockdown has now, as you well know, been extended for a further two weeks. We will struggle to extend support for a further two weeks as we do not have a stable income stream to support the staff.The OCA is, therefore, appealing to Obs residents to assist us in continuing to support the three staff members by making whatever contribution you can, big or small, to the OCA to enable us to continue supporting our staff through this additional lockdown period.Contributions can be made to:
Account holder: Observatory Civic Association
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch Code: 024909
Account No: 071348239
Reference: “Staff” + your surname
Please email your EFT donation confirmation to email@example.comPlease help us support staff who have loyally served the Obs community for many years.
4. Lastly, a reminder, if you are in need of help (shopping, medicines, food) but are unable or uncertain about heading out, or if you are in self-isolation, please contact Obs CAN for assistance at https://chat.whatsapp.com/C3oO0ibrV8g7AZNUsdl8xV or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Communities are doing amazing work to address COVID-19. Let’s continue to make it happen. Obs CAN!
Leslie London – OCA Chair