The homeless won't be forced into shelters, but are being encouraged to remain there. The Gauteng government is working with metros to erect tents and use abandoned buildings to provide the homeless with sanctuary during the lockdown. This is a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. Courtesy #DStv403
JOHANNESBURG - The homeless won't be forced into shelters, but are being encouraged to remain there.
The Gauteng government is working with metros to erect tents and use abandoned buildings to provide the homeless with sanctuary during the lockdown.
This is in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Statistics have revealed there are at least 15,000 homeless people in Gauteng.
On the first day of the national lockdown, law enforcement was in the Johannesburg city centre removing people from the streets and transporting them to shelters across the province.
But the Gauteng government says most have since run away.
Those who've left are being accused of using drugs and needing a fix.
The province has now begun the process of getting the displaced back into the shelters.
Authorities hope to remind the homeless of how important it is to shelter in place.
“If you drive around you will see some of the homeless people still roaming around. But our approach is simple. We will persuade, not force. I am told other ran away before we arrived here. We will not even hunt them. We will make the facilities available. They will see that it is much better for them to be here rather than in the streets,” said Panyaza Lesufi, acting Gauteng Human Settlements MEC.
Johannesburg mayor, Geoff Makhubu says the provincial government must provide more help.
“We are planning to have about 1200 tents here. We have identified other facilities in Ellis Park to turn them into tent villages. But of course this is a short term measure. We need your help in converting some of the disused buildings as sites,” said Makhubu.
But some homeless people want to remain on the streets.
SA lockdown: Johannesburg homeless being sheltered
“I don’t have a choice, even if I perhaps don’t want to stay here. But, I don’t know anything about this disease so when someone who knows comes and tells me what to do, I must cooperate. There is no other way,” said one homeless person.
Others agree with the government’s measures.
“I support this and I ask my brothers and sisters who are in the streets to come here and have a roof over their heads. And also so that they are protected from this disease and not get it while on the street," said another homeless person.
Shelters don't just ensure the homeless are fed and given warm blankets.
They allow for the screening of COVID-19 and for medical treatment to be given.
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