Three arrested at Strandfontein site

Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien addresses delegates outside the Strandfontein sport fields.
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien addresses delegates outside the Strandfontein sport fields.
Samantha Lee-Jacobs

Three people have been arrested at the Strandfontein Sports Field where the City of Cape Town is currently housing thousands of street people from across the city.

JP Smith, Mayco member for safety and security confirms they received complaints that a fire broke out at the site on Tuesday (7 April).

"The City can confirm that there was no fire on site this afternoon. Staff from the Mitchell's Plain Fire Station went on-site to conduct an inspection. We can, however, confirm that there was some conflict on site, involving a newly arrived group of street people from Somerset West," says Smith.

"They were under the impression that they would be allowed to return to their areas after being screened at the site, and when it became clear that they were required to remain in Strandfontein, a few of them pulled down one of the internal fences and four climbed over the perimeter wall."

Smith says while some of the group has since indicated that they will remain on-site, the City would like to make it clear that, according to police, any person who leaves the site will be in violation of the national lockdown regulations and will be dealt with accordingly.

"The City remains committed to ensuring that street people are offered a place to stay for the duration of the lockdown, as instructed by the national government, and to provide the necessary amenities," says Smith.

"We understand that there is substantial interest in the goings-on at the site, but we deplore the attempts at sensationalism. We also need to reiterate to the public that as with any undertaking as complex as this, there will be challenges; however, the City is geared to address these in conjunction with our partner organisations," says Smith.

The site was first identified as the central temporary shelter for around 2000 homeless people on Thursday 2 April, with the first street people being moved to the site at the weekend.

“While several sites were initially considered, further consultations on the matter have led us to the conclusion that one facility will be a better approach, both in terms of logistics and management of the site,” says Mayor Dan Plato.

Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien says there are around 6000 homeless people in the province, with 2000 making use of shelters.

Many civic organisations in the area were unhappy with the decision to relocate the homeless residents to the site, stating safety concerns and “it becoming permanent”.

Despite their concerns electrification, ablution facilities and marquee tents have already been erected.

The site will be manned by Law Enforcement.

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