City’s 3 000 homeless make plans around lockdown

2020-03-27 14:30
People living on the street (from left) Phindile Mkhize, Mondli Ngubane and Thembinkosi Ngongoma all said they would be going back home for the lockdown. (Moeketsi Mamane)

People living on the street (from left) Phindile Mkhize, Mondli Ngubane and Thembinkosi Ngongoma all said they would be going back home for the lockdown. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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While everyone was busy with their last-minute shopping yesterday afternoon in preparation for the lockdown, homeless people in the city centre were still uncertain about what would happen to them.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the lockdown of the entire nation on Monday evening, he said homeless people would be housed in temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards for the period of the 21-day lockdown.

Speaking to The Witness on Thursday, a group of homeless people said they had little information about the virus.

“We heard people talking about corona and that if you get it you might die,” said 22-year-old Thembinkosi Ngongoma.

Begging at the corner of Burger and Boshoff streets, Phindile Mkhize (29) from Willowfountain, said as soon as she made enough money for taxi fare, she would be boarding a taxi back home.

Homeless woman Phindile Mkhize.

“I left home because of family feuds and have been living on the streets for the past two years now. I have no choice but to go back home for the lockdown. After 21 days, I’ll come back to town,” she said.

Mkhize and Ngongoma both said they had not heard about any plans of removing vagrants off the streets and shelters.

Ngongoma said he had just done his washing, which he was hanging on a fence, and as soon as it dried, he would also catch a taxi back home to Taylors Halt.

Another homeless woman, who asked not to be named, said she was told that there would be a bus collecting all homeless people from 5 pm last night and taking them to the Old Prison on Burger Street.

Another homeless man, who asked not to be named, said he had nowhere to go. “My question is will they allow me out of that shelter if I want to leave? I can’t stay in one place for too long and I fear that if I agree to be taken to that shelter they won’t allow me out so I am considering not going. I am fine on the streets,” he said.

Msunduzi Municipality said they have identified 3 000 homeless people and they were busy preparing sites where they will house them.

On Thursday, Msunduzi Municipality senior manager Madeleine Jackson said the security cluster was still in a meeting with the SAPS to finalise the detailed plan, which includes a health risk assessment and other relevant assessments. She said further details will be provided upon finalisation of the plan.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  lockdown south africa
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