Concerns over influx of homeless people

Homeless people have been moving into Sunningdale in greater numbers in the past few weeks.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of vagrants in Sunningdale in the past few weeks, say residents.

Resident Carla McKay said that when she had asked a vagrant at the traffic lights near Table Bay Mall why he wasn’t in a shelter he had told her he and a few other homeless people had left the City’s emergency Strandfontein shelter a few weeks earlier because it was to be closed.

“This whole thing has caused a lot of vagrants to go back to where they used to beg to get food and money,” she said.

Greater Table View Action Forum chairwoman Karen Davis said the homeless saw Table View as the land of milk and honey.

“The thing we’ve noticed now is that there are new faces in the area. And since we’re moving to level 3 soon, we might have a bigger problem on our hands. But, on the other hand, we hope that authorities such as SAPS and the CPF can also do a lot more to help during this time.”

Table View CPF chairman David Harris said they were very concerned about the issue and had been reporting it constantly.

“Unfortunately, all we see are vagrants getting fines and that does nothing to help the situation. Our parks and greenbelts are full of rubbish, drug paraphernalia and human faeces. Unfortunately, we are in a worse situation than before the lockdown.”

Sunningdale resident Lynette Groenewald said she hoped government would help the vagrants.

“We need help to move these people to a different place, and the government should provide them with a proper tent. Law enforcement is doing nothing even though we have made many calls to them.”

The vagrants have set up shelters on the greenbelt behind Emporium Centre Sunningdale, and, according to Ms Groenewald, the area is crawling with rats.

“It has now become a very unhealthy environment with raw sewage going into the canal and then the sea.”

Colleen Pieterse, founder of the non-profit welfare organisation TLC Outreach said the City was hampering their efforts to help the indigent.

“I’m saddened by all of this. Where are these vagrants supposed to go? Do we want them to die on the streets? I have spoken to vagrants and I know that they were much happier at the Strandfontein camp but now that those people are moved away from there; it’s been a disaster.”

The City has drawn criticism from those who say it doesn’t make sense to move the homeless when the virus has yet to reach its peak. The City has also been accused of simply dumping homeless people from the closed Strandfontein site on street corners, but Dr Zahid Badroodien, the mayoral committee member for community services and health, has denied that allegation.

“The final homeless individuals at the Strandfontein temporary emergency shelter were moved off site (on Thursday May 21) , which signalled the formal decommissioning of the site. This after an order granted by the court supported the City’s efforts to assist the homeless with alternative shelter placement,” he said.

Dr Badroodien said all the close contacts of a Covid-19 case linked to the Strandfontein site would be offered accommodation at a quarantine facility.

He said that of the 461 people who had been left on site last week, 61 had returned to the street, 31 had been placed in quarantine, 356 had been placed in alternative shelters and 13 had been reintegrated into their communities.