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By Zanele Mbengo


Mobile facilities provide showers to the homeless

Gauteng's Nansi Shower project aims to provide dignity, hygiene, and support for homeless individuals through outreach initiatives.

After the unveiling of the Nansi Shower project by the Gauteng provincial social development department, some homeless people in the province will have access to mobile shower facilities.

Mbali Nhlapho, MEC of Gauteng’s department of social development, noted how the department was criticised and questioned about the use of these showers.

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She emphasised that “the point of these showers is because when a person is dirty and looked down upon, you strip them of their dignity”.

“These showers are not the only tool we’re bringing. They are part of the broader work we are doing.

“We’ve indicated that when we find you on the street, we’re able to take you to our shelters and get you engaged in our skills development programmes,” she said.

Bringing dignity

“These showers are a way to provide and ensure hygiene, secure health but, importantly, bring about much-required dignity to all people,” said Nhlapho.

Katleho Ncaphe from the Participate, Envision, Navigate (PEN) organisation said it offered outreach, transitional accommodation and dropping centre.

He said at homeless hotspots, people will be registered and their data collected. In this way, it will be known where a particular person comes from and they will be screened.

“From there, they will see a health worker who will perform health assessments to make sure everyone is healthy, so this doesn’t become a health hazard,” he said.

“Once all protocols are followed from health and the auxiliary social worker, we will refer them to our dropping centre where they will be assessed further.”

Ncaphe added that “in terms of our framework, security is funded. There will be security and assessors to ensure the safety of both men and women.”

Health worker Khomotso Vilakazi said hygiene control was one of the issues they had to deal with when it came to homeless people.

“They come to our centres for sanitation and we offer them toiletries. For mobile showers, we have a cleaner who is a hygiene controller who will clean before and after people shower,” said Vilakazi.

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Zwivhuya Ramatshetshe, a social auxiliary worker at PEN, said it was important to reach out to homeless people to come and shower.

She said it was easier to refer them to their centres where they would be helped. “We are dealing with people who aren’t mentally stable at times and fear being judged.

“At times, it’s people who don’t want to go back home and choose to live on the streets, so we try to at least meet them halfway,” said Ramatshetshe.

Lindelani Ndawo, one of the beneficiaries of the Mess Impilo shelter, said it was not easy to find shelters because they are always full and the streets become the only option.

“Living on the streets made me anxious and I turned to drugs for comfort and security. “Through these mobile showers, there will be more outreach campaigns.

“A challenge would be getting clean clothes because after taking a shower people don’t have clothes,” said Ndawo.