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Safe house needs a home

The fate of the proposed shelter for women and children in Somerset West now lies in the hands of the City of Cape Town and its residents.

The Somerset West Night Shelter earlier applied for a lease contract with the City for a portion of land on a property in a Somerset West residential area.

The submission for public comment closed earlier this week.

DistrictMail knows the location of the proposed property, but owing to the proposed safe house for victims of abuse the exact location cannot be identified.

According to the night shelter’s honorary chairperson Jo Swart, the house will be a safe space for women and children. “It will assist victims with temporary accommodation, social services, counselling and support in their new situation in life,” Swart said.

Swart added that the public participation process is still ongoing and her organisation has been engaging with neighbours

“Initially there seemed to be some resistance, which later became support,” she said. “It is all about gaining a better understanding of what the shelter endeavours to set up and how it will operate, who it will serve and how it will extend services.”

Swart explained that these are difficult questions to respond to, given the organisation has to wait and see if the lease is granted.

Should its application be successful, the agency hopes the shelter for women and children will be up and running within a year.

“We will establish a new team with key role-players who have experience and are actively involved with this need,” Swart said.

“We can only hope that we are able to assist with the renovation of the house, as it is historical and in desperate need of attention. If the shelter needs to carry this cost, that will be a challenge that will need community involvement.”

Subcouncil 24 chairperson Stuart Pringle confirmed an application was received by the SW Night Shelter for a portion of the land, and a notice for public comment was published by the City’s Property Management Department. The notice was published in both the Cape Times and Die Burger on Friday 27 July.

Pringle said fellow councillor Gregory Peck earlier agreed to meet with neighbouring residents, together with Swart, in his absence, and that he is more than willing to chair any future meetings between the night shelter and community representatives.

“My role and that of other councillors will be to consider all the comments and decide whether or not to support the proposed lease in terms of the law and policies of council.”

Pringle said the property in question had been dormant and derelict for many years. “The City took a decision several years ago to either lease or sell the property, but unfortunately no-one put in a successful tender for the property in spite of numerous attempts by the City.”

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