Task team set up for va­grant is­sue

The Mercury - - METRO - NOSIPHO MNGOMA Nosipho Mngoma@inl.co.za

A MULTISECTORAL task team has been es­tab­lished by the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to find so­lu­tions to home­less­ness in the city.

Mem­bers of the team in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, faith­based or­gan­i­sa­tions, busi­ness, NGOs, the pri­vate sec­tor and academia.

It was es­tab­lished at a meet­ing hosted by deputy mayor Fawzia Peer at the Dur­ban City Hall yes­ter­day.

Peer said while many cities in the world bat­tled with home­less­ness, eThek­wini was lag­ging be­hind in terms of plan­ning for the in­creas­ing pop­u­la­tion in the city.

Groups of home­less peo­ple, es­pe­cially those ad­dicted to whoonga, were not only liv­ing in the CBD but as far away as Veru­lam and Ton­gaat.

“The city can­not af­ford to not do any­thing as there are con­se­quences and spi­ralling ef­fects for so­cio-eco­nomic devel­op­ment,” Peer said.

She said part of the team’s work would be to look at how the city could bet­ter reg­u­late shel­ters to avoid the “un­scrupu­lous, ex­ploita­tive prac­tices that thrive on the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of home­less peo­ple” seen at some pri­vately-run or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Out­lin­ing some of the find­ings of a study by the city, Nomsa Shembe, a man­ager in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s Safer Cities Unit, said 80% of the home­less in Dur­ban were male.

There were about an equal num­ber – al­most 2 000 – who lived on the street and those who lived in shel­ters.

An­other study had found that 90% of them were drug users.

“These peo­ple are our broth­ers and sis­ters, but they are en­croach­ing on our rights and so peo­ple see them as a prob­lem.

That they had the same rights as any other per­son was what Sikho Msomi of the Um­bilo Busi­ness Fo­rum urged the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to re­mem­ber when for­mu­lat­ing the ac­tion plan to deal with home­less­ness.

Ray­mond Per­rier, di­rec­tor at the De­nis Hurley Cen­tre, said the first in­di­ca­tion of the city’s com­mit­ment to the plan would be to stop Metro Po­lice and se­cu­rity from ha­rass­ing the home­less and burn­ing their be­long­ings.

He also called on the city to take more ac­tive steps in es­tab­lish­ing sub­sidised drop in cen­tres, like the one run by the De­nis Hurley Cen­tre, of­fer­ing the home­less food, health and so­cial work ser­vices.

Msomi and Per­rier were elected to the 12-mem­ber task team.

Ray­mond Per­rier, di­rec­tor at the De­nis Hurley Cen­tre, ad­dress­ing a meet­ing which was called by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to form a task team to deal with home­less­ness. NQOBILE MBONAMBI | African News Agency (ANA)

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