Council jibs at prices for shelter furnishings

2015-10-26 10:04
Thokozani Mbele shows the mattress he has been sleeping on in an empty room. Mbele is one of the adults who is part of the Adults Living in the Street project headed by the city. (The Witness)

Thokozani Mbele shows the mattress he has been sleeping on in an empty room. Mbele is one of the adults who is part of the Adults Living in the Street project headed by the city. (The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A homeless rehabilitation shelter in the inner city may soon be kitted out with top end furnishings, sending the city officials into a flurry.

From R30 per plate to a R6 000 television set, the shopping list recommended to council amounted to over R65 000, which councillors agreed was “too high”.

But the city technocrats have assured councillors that they will not be ripped off.

The issue became the focus of a debate at the city’s executive committee last week.

Items such as an R11 000 gas stove, a R4 200 freezer and more than R3 500 on basic crockery and cutlery and R1 200 for just four pots are among the list required to be purchased.

A report was brought to council for the release and use of funds for the Adults Living in the Street Project; a city driven initiative to eradicate the numbers of people living on the street.

“The prices are ridiculous and unbelievable. It seems when people are dealing with the municipality the prices of goods are inflated yet if we ask the same people to provide a shopping list when money will come out of their own pocket, we will see a vast difference,” said councillor Jabu Ngubo.

Fellow executive committee member councillor Eunice Majola agreed with Ngubo, adding that although they do not dispute the urgency behind these purchases, the amounts need to be clarified.

“We are people who shop ourselves. We know the prices of things and R11 000 for a gas stove [high end] and R300 for a mop and broom is not right,” said Majola.

In the meantime Business Fighting Crime’s project manager Debbie Harrison has been providing meals and toiletries to the shelter out of her own pocket for the past two weeks.

“We have 31 people living here and we cannot take any more. We honestly need the help and businesses should try and get on board to purchase these much needed items. If we can spend less money on ‘things’ and more money on rehabilitating these people then it will work out better,” said Harrison.

Harrison has since secured Asmalls to provide curtains and towels and Msunduzi Disaster Management foam mattresses and blankets.

Ward 27 councillor Judith Lawrence said she has been dealing with numerous complaints from neighbouring homes and businesses.

Council recently relocated the adults who were living on the streets near the Upper Crust Bakery in Langalibalele [Longmarket] Street to Havelock Road.

However, Lawrence says the move was “too quick” and all factors were not considered.

“There is a children’s shelter next door and they have complained that it is too noisy. Furthermore there is no wall or fence separating the houses, which is a security concern,” said Lawrence.

The city’s community services deputy head Boniwe Zulu assured councillors that supply chain management will check all prices and ensure all money is put to good use.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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