Fred Nel MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Local Government
It is hardly surprising that the number of homeless people in Centurion have doubled, according to the front page article of the Centurion Record (31 August). The Gauteng Social Development Department appears to have no strategy to address the growing problem and the four shelters it funds only caters for 240 homeless people.
There are no such shelters in Centurion, or anywhere in the broader Tshwane area, as three are in Johannesburg and one in the West Rand. Current conservative estimates indicate that there are between 100 000 and 200 000 people in Gauteng without a fixed shelter or home.
Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza also unrealistically expects these four shelters to cater for in excess of 200 000 people scattered across the province in cases of emergency such as severe weather. The MEC still insists that the department will have to commission a study to determine the needs of the province, despite the fact that shelters with a capacity of 240 cannot possibly provide for more than 200 000 homeless people. This is common sense.
The DA urged the MEC to conduct an urgent needs assessment in the province and ensure that long-term solutions are found to address the growing rate of homelessness in Gauteng.
I am concerned that all attempts to address homelessness in the province are based on temporary relief and no permanent solution exists to get people off the streets, and this is demonstrated in Centurion. Current remedies are temporary shelters and halfway houses offered by NGOs.
With the rate of urbanisation and influx into Gauteng it is expected that homelessness will continue to grow unless targeted interventions and programmes are piloted by the provincial government in conjunction with the Tshwane metro. Without proper intervention the province could face a humanitarian crisis in the future, as demonstrated by the extreme cold and snow this winter.