Expressing deep concern over the closure of Tshwane’s only metro-run homeless shelter in the Pretoria CBD, the political party Good is calling on Mayor Cilliers Brink to expedite the implementation of the adopted 2019 homelessness policy, deemed a “first in South Africa.” Tshwane Good councillor Sarah Mabotsa stressed the urgency for Mayor Brink to convert abandoned city buildings into homeless shelters in response to the shelter’s closure. Mabotsa revealed the shelter in Struben Street, founded in 2005, had fallen into disrepair, accommodating double the intended number of homeless individuals and facing challenges with sanitation and criminal activities.
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Highlighting the city’s financial constraints, Mabotsa noted that Tshwane had no plans to build new shelters. In May, a survey with the University of Pretoria and the Tshwane Homelessness Forum revealed that approximately 4,000 people lived on Tshwane’s streets. Census 2022 figures show that Tshwane has the most homeless individuals in South Africa. Mabotsa urged the mayor to accelerate plans to collaborate with NGOs and convert underutilised city properties into temporary homeless shelters. She commended the proposal to refurbish specific buildings in Arcadia and transfer them to the Housing Company Tshwane, highlighting the need for swift implementation.
The closure of the No. 2 Struben Street Shelter, the only metro-operated homeless shelter, came after a raid by Gauteng MEC Mbali Hlophe, who discovered non-compliance and poor servicing of residents. The facility, home to over 600 homeless people, faced structural and maintenance issues, leading to its closure. Mabotsa urged the mayor to ensure that proposed plans for shelter refurbishment and the relocation of residents to alternative accommodations are swiftly executed. Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo stated that the facility, declared unsafe, would be sealed off, and residents would be moved to shelters managed by NPOs with formal agreements with the metro. The municipality’s strategy aims to support NPOs in establishing more shelters within the city rather than setting new shelters directly.
Picture: X / CityTshwane
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