2015-11-25 06:23
PHOTO: supplied A youth from the Y-Justice programme enjoys the coolness of the pool after a misunderstanding at Alexandra Swimming Baths.

PHOTO: supplied A youth from the Y-Justice programme enjoys the coolness of the pool after a misunderstanding at Alexandra Swimming Baths.

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CLINTON George, YMCA Pietermaritzburg CEO was outraged last week when a group of people living on the streets were turned away from Alexandra Swimming Baths.

However, Msunduzi Mayor, Chris Ndlela, came to the aid of the youth quickly resolving the misunderstanding.

George said the group is part of the Y-Justice programme that runs weekly at the YMCA where people living on the street come to for a hot meal, to wash their clothes and to take part in the various life skills that are offered to them.

“It is a safe place where they come to develop and express themselves, a place that listens and believes in them. It was hot on Tuesday and we decided to treat them to a day at the pool,” he said.

George explained that when they got to the counter at the pool they were denied entrance because they were told that the pool was being cleaned. “It became apparent that this was not the case since other citizens were let in without any problem.”

According to George, it was eventually admitted that it was because the youth are living on the streets and could pose a danger to the public that they were denied entrance.

“The fact that YMCA had the money to pay for everyone is not the issue, it is because of the stigmatisation around this group in society that they are being discriminated against. The advocacy of the YMCA leaders and the explanation that we would be responsible for them was not enough to change their mind,” said George.

It was then that George enlisted the help of Ndlela who arrived at the scene within minutes.

“There was a slight misunderstanding between the patrons who had come to the pool and the security guard on site. When Clinton George had come to the pools, accompanied by the youngsters from YMCA, the cashier was not at the front, stepped away for a minutes and that is how the misunderstanding happened,” said Nqobile Madonda, acting marketing and communications manager at the municipality.

George said that the surprise on the youths faces to know that “their mayor” believed in their rights was “heart-wrenching”.

“To live a life where the basic human rights are ignored to the point that they are forgotten is tragic. We thank mayor Chris Ndlela from the bottom of our hearts for serving the public with the utmost sincerity and diligence in his actions,” said George.

“The mayor wishes to state that public facilities are for all residents to enjoy and are not for a select few and we are a non-discriminatory municipality and always promote the message that we are all equal and should be treated equally, with respect and dignity,” said Madonda.

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