The Western Cape ANC has slammed the temporary housing facility for homeless people in Strandfontein, with provincial opposition leader Cameron Dugmore intending to ask Premier Alan Winde to intervene.
On Thursday, the City of Cape Town opened the site to the media for an inspection.
After the tour, Dugmore made clear his dissatisfaction at the decision to house hundreds of homeless people at one site, saying it was “wrong” and “not sustainable”.
However, the City’s mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the site was not intended to be “sustainable” as it was only a short-term emergency measure.
But Dugmore challenged the decision to house hundreds of people at one facility.
He cited numerous reported incidents of insufficient mattresses, protective equipment for volunteers, food and other essentials.
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Instead, he advocated a strategy to care for homeless people in their own communities.
Dugmore said he would raise this urgently with national government leadership as well as Winde.
The end of the media tour degenerated into a fiery stand-up argument between Dugmore and Smith, with Dugmore damning Smith as “arrogant”, and Smith chastising Dugmore for “misleading the public”.
Mayor Dan Plato said the centre had been set up in record time to ensure “the preservation of human life” – that of homeless people – during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Plato added the City had acted in accordance with national disaster regulations, saying the site included medical screening – for both the coronavirus and tuberculosis – additional medical treatment, daily meals and a range of social support services.
Several homeless people who were interviewed by the media spoke of their deep stress and “confusion” at the sudden arrival of the Covid-19 crisis.
Earlier this week, the mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, said the City had considered a number of smaller sites.
He added it had quickly realised each site would have to have a range of different facilities, such as isolation areas and separate areas for people suffering from addiction-related illnesses.
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This had led to a decision for a mass facility, where these services could be offered to as many people as possible, Badroodien said.
The site can accommodate around 2 000 people, with Plato saying there was still place for around 450 more.
The City said people were not being held against their will at the site, adding some, who suffered from withdrawal symptoms, had left.
Both Smith and Dugmore acknowledged, separately, the task at hand was “extremely challenging”, in its complexity.