A group homeless people is calling on the City of Cape Town to step up and take responsibility for them. They have been living at the Community Chest building for weeks now after the city apparently left them outside a site after the Strandfontein camp closed. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

NEWS | 22 June 2020 | Kaylynn Palm

The homeless here said that they’re disappointed with the city after it assured them that there would be accommodation when the Strandfontein camp closed.

CAPE TOWN – A group of homeless people in the CBD will have to wait another week to move into the City of Cape Town’s safe space.

At the start of lockdown, hundreds of homeless people were accommodated at a macro site in Strandfontein but it was closed at the end of April and people were moved to smaller sites.

However, a group of about 170 were not put into a site, claiming they were left on the pavement at the Culemborg safe space after they were moved from a homeless camp.

After spending about a week under a bridge, in the cold and rain, the group was given an option to occupy the Community Chest office.

This is until the construction of a safe space at Culemborg is eventually completed.

The group said they were disappointed with the city after it assured them that there would be accommodation when the Strandfontein camp closed.

CEO Lorenzo Davids, who is sitting outside the building with his colleagues connected to free Wi-Fi on his laptop, said he saw the desperation and handed over the keys to the building.

Davids said the city dumped them at the site where they had to watch construction workers from the pavement.

“There’s no supervisor here and that to me shows that they are the most amazing human beings. They don’t belong in camp, in shelters, they don’t belong in dehumanised spaces.”

John Hufckie, who was with the group at Strandfontein, said as long as he had hot water, a roof, and sanitiser he was grateful. But he could not understand why there wasn’t enough infrastructure for the homeless and destitute. He said he recalled the president saying: ‘Don’t worry my angels, there’s money’.

He also added that they were living in poor conditions at the Strandfontein site, saying there were no proper measures in place.

“We lived in World War II because that’s what the conditions were like. How can you want to police homeless people? For what?”

The City of Cape Town said the construction of a homeless site in the CBD was still under way.

Mayco member for Community Services and Health Zahid Badroodien said there had been a delay extending the Culemborg site and they were working towards completing it by the first of July.

“The reason for us not being able to open this month was because we were bringing in other services like electricity, water and sewage. At the moment, electricity is completed.”

Badroodien said they wanted to go to Culemborg because they knew the city was in the process of expanding and were given other options for shelters.
He said the city was preparing the site and had told them to wait until it was completed.

“The planning officials say there has been a delay in the implementation of water and sewage because of the technical nature of the work that couldn’t be done via the existing tender.”

The city has told EWN, the expected date of completion on the site was 1 July.