After a calamitous start to accommodate the homeless of Tshwane at the Caledonian Stadium, which has been closed, about 300 people have now been resettled at the Centurion Sports Park.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has added an unfamiliar element to how we respond to some of our most pressing challenges,” said Mpho Nawa, the City of Tshwane’s lead administrator.
Tshwane went into administration as political upheaval came to a head at around the same time as the impact of the coronavirus in South Africa became clearer.
The initial effort to relocate the homeless in line with the Disaster Act regulations that they be sheltered as the country navigated a lockdown to control the number of cases was hit by arguments over not having enough food and water.
There were rushes for food, and as a result many of the people living at the makeshift accommodation set up at the stadium left, complaining they would be better off outside it.
The administrators have since set up new shelters at the sports park and the City is looking for another 16 sites for vulnerable people.
“The City continues to provide water tankers, mobile toilets, mattresses, blankets, sanitisers and three meals daily,” said Nawa.
He added the efforts to help the homeless and vulnerable were done with the help of a large number of NGOs and social workers.
Nawa thanked the Tshwane Homelessness Forum, Community Oriented Substance Use Programme, University of Pretoria, Doctors without Borders, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Laudium Disaster Management Services, the Tshwane Food Bank and Gauteng and national departments of social development.
In the meantime, the City is distributing water tankers to areas that need it and assisting informal traders with their applications to be allowed to trade during the lockdown. It has also pared down its call centre operations to focus on maintenance issues.