Homeless on the move

Boarding the bus to Strandfontein from Simon's Town.

The City of Cape Town has moved most of the far south homeless people – 175 to date – to a camp at the Strandfontein sports ground in Mitchell’s Plain.

The emergency shelter will be their home during the Covid-19 lockdown. It will provide ablutions, health care, food and security.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, the mayoral committee member for community services and health, said the City had planned to use the Culemborg Safe Space but it wasn’t big enough. The Strandfontein site could hold about 2 000 people with the necessary physical distancing, he said.

The City has spent R32 million on the site, which houses street people from the far south, the city centre and the Cape Flats.

There are 1 100 people in the camp, but Dr Badroodien said it could be expanded if necessary.

Community halls weren’t big enough for the task and civic centres might be needed to take an overflow of patients from hospitals, he said.

Ward 69 councillor Felicity Purchase said the homeless had been fed and given a parcel from charities.

The police would pick up any vagrants or homeless still on the streets and take them to the camp, she added.

The first group left on Saturday April 4. The rest were collected in buses on Sunday April 5.

According to Ward 61 councillor Simon Liell-Cock, 56 people from Simon’s Town, 64 from Fish Hoek and 55 from Muizenberg were moved at the weekend.

The first arrivals on Saturday were documented and had a health screening.

“After this, they were allocated a tent. There is a medical tent with professional carers and a family tent and then other tents for men and women,” Ms Purchase said. “We are keeping the far south people together so there is a sense of familiarity. Social workers and substance abuse counsellors would help where needed, she said.

“The idea is to give them dignity and help them get back on their feet. Hopefully we can reintegrate them back with families or get them a position in a shelter or facility which means they don’t need to go back on the street.”

Ms Purchase said she would go with the police and private security when they searched for homeless people hiding out in areas such as Fish Hoek Beach, Clovelly, Sun Valley, Glencairn wetlands, Black Hill and Dido Valley.

The camp residents had been in good spirits during her visit, she said. “We saw them after lunch, and they were setting up for a games afternoon.”

A field hospital at the site was helping those who had been found to have serious medical conditions, she said.