City slams claims of dumping homeless, 'individuals chose to return to streets'
The Strandfontein camp set up to house Cape Town's homeless population during the Covid-19 lockdown has come under fire from a number of quarters.
On Thursday Strandfontein Homeless Action Committee's Carlos Mesquita described to Refilwe Moloto how the remaining people have been moved from pillar to post. He was deeply concerned that despite a member on-site testing positive for Covid-19, those remaining had not been isolated or quarantined, and in fact, many had left to go back onto the streets without testing.
His call for the remaining 150 people to be allowed to remain at Strandfonetin until the allotted Culmeborg site is ready was refused, he stated.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies spoke to Refilwe Moloto earlier this week about the legal battle to allow human rights monitors into the camp.
Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien responds to allegations of a lack of health measures and testing at the Strandfontein temporary camp for the homeless.
It is unfair to portray the Strandfontein camp as being a disaster for a number of reasons, notwithstanding the fact that 1,500 people accessed medical care for new or uncontrolled conditions.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He says 4,500 meals issued to everyone every day, hot showers, access to medical care with 15 doctors and nurses, access to psychosocial support offered at the facility, as well as reintegration of 100 people into their communities, .
In response to claims that monitors were not allowed on-site, he says the City respects the role of human rights monitors but were unhappy in the cases where monitors were inciting residents,
We respect the role of the Human Rights Commission but when monitors were coming on-site instigating and enticing the homeless individuals in their tents and further chastising the health services and staff on-site to engage with them when they are not in a position to do so, and further threatening them then the City must look after their staff on-site delivering essential services.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He adds that the media has not been willing to report this.
The City has never barred the Human Rights Commission form coming to site.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
The outcome of the recent court case involving access of monitors to the site, was that Human Rights commissioners and staff are allowed to visit the site, but this does not extend to monitors.
We will not allow independent monitors who share their reports straight to the media without sharing reports to the executive mayor of the City, allowing the City to respond accordingly.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He says in the last 48 hours the Homeless Action Committee lead my Carlos Mesquita, lodged an interdict against the City on two accounts - Firstly, the refusal to leave the facility without consultation regarding where they will be going to, and secondly refusal to leave without being given access to quarantine facilities.
Regarding the first issue, Badroodien says from the start it was made clear the facility was a temporary one and groups would be moved out gradually over the lockdown period to smaller facilities.
With regard to the issue around quarantining, he adds that many residents refused to be screened while at the camp.
The City did say that those with close contact to the case linked to Strandfontein will access quarantine facilities. Mr Mesquita issued a list of over 30 names who were given space at the quarantine facility which takes us to 48 hours ago.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He insists a quarantine facility was made available to the group two days ago and the process of moving them to Milnerton has been underway.
He responds to questions about claims that they were moved in the middle of the night.
When transport was made available, they refused to leave the facility. Mr Mesquita on-site said that according to him their lawyers had instructed them to not leave the facility.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
The City then spoke to the group's lawyers, he says, and was told this was not the advice given, and that the group should leave.
This was at about 6.30 pm that day. After 7 pm they were still refusing, and their lawyers then reached out to individuals on-site to say they must leave and they ten left....the court had ordered they must be put into quarantine facility.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He adds that they then refused to leave the bus.
The Melkbos facility was ready for them but the two delays and the refusals to get on the bus, they could not take them on so the province decided to move them to another facility.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
Refilwe Moloto questions how the group has now ended up under the bridge on the Cape Town Foreshore.
He says the court order issued late on Thursday as a result of the case initiated by the group against the City clearly states that all the individuals needing quarantine must be housed in such a facility, and the remainder should go to smaller shelters.
He says the judge clearly stated that those not needing quarantine should enter smaller shelters until Culemborg is ready, but they have opted to return to the streets.
Reading from the court papers, they are not obliged to take up these offers, and so those individuals have written in their own hand...though they have alleged that the City has dumped them, they themselves have written their names on a list of people not wanting to go to smaller facilities, and have opted to go back to the streets.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
Now there is another narrative playing out that the City has dumped them in the CBD which is not the case.Zahid Badroodien, Mayco Member for Community Services and Health - City of Cape Town
He says the individuals were offered shelter options and were not forced into them.
Listen to the interview below:
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