'City must quarantine all left on Strandfontein site after Covid-19 exposure'
Carlos Mesquita, a member of the Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee, talks to Refilwe Moloto about how the City has been treating them, as they are now trying to relocate them from the controversial camp in Strandfontein.
He explains that the committee became aware on 13 May that one person had tested positive for Covid-19.
They had been on the site and left on 11 May. The City also became aware of this.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
On the morning of the 14th, we were told the whole camp, not only our tent where the individual came from, but the whole camp would be tested for Covid-19. We were also told that these tests would be done by private labs to ensure that the results came through quickly.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
This speedy process was necessary because people had to be removed from the site before the decommissioning of the site on 20 May, he explains.
Despite this knowledge, the City let some 50 people leave the camp on the 13 and 14 May that had chosen to go back onto the street.
He says the committee raised objections to this as the Covid-19 status of these individuals leaving the site was not yet known.
Then on Tuesday around 4.30 pm, he says those remaining on-site were suddenly told they needed to pack up and board busses to an isolation venue.
At that point, they were not prepared to divulge where we were going.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
Lawyers For Human Rights, representing the group, said this was not a court order but a directive from the judge advising the group to go into isolation.
Mesquita acknowledges it was imperative the entire tent compromising committee members and 20 other individuals are quarantined as they had been in close contact with the individual who had tested positive for Covid-19.
We were completely dumbstruck that there was no concern whatsoever.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
He says the decommissioning of the site on the date given was an outcome of complaints by the Strandfotnein ratepayers Association.
Everything was done to reduce the number of people on the site.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
He says the committee was formed as a response to this action as hundreds left the site without being tested.
What happened on Wednesday?
Our lawyers advised us we should get onto the buses and leave for the site we had been told would be the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Bloubergstrand. We ended up at the Melkbos Cultural Centre.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
He says now those staying in this venue have been exposed to their group.
They had no knowledge of our arrival. When we arrived at the address law enforcement had been told to take us to, the director Mandy said she had absolutely no directive to take us in.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
He says they spent a few hours waiting at the venue talking to lawyers and then were taken back to Strandfontein.
His group, along with 140 others who were meant to move to shelters, are also still on the Strandfontein site.
The City of Cape Town has communicated that the Culemborg site will only be ready 31 May.
The committee suggested to the City that the Strandfontein site, therefore, be kept open for the 9 days until then so that people do not end up on the street in winter and also untested.
It works both ways. You can quarantine the 150 odd that were exposed to the person who tested positive, as well as keeping them here until Culemborg is ready.Carlos Mesquita, Member - Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee
He says, however, the Department of Social Development made it will not be kept open.
He says finally, the City is responsible for isolating and quarantining all individuals left on the Strandfontein site.
Refilwe Moloto says the City of Cape Town will be given an opportunity to respond.
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