The nationwide lockdown has had a big impact on the lives of the vulnerable people in the Overstrand.
Ray Hartmann, Treasurer of the Hermanus Night Shelter, says the shutting of churches has meant soup kitchens have also closed.
He said the United Church in Hermanus was still running on Monday 23 March, while the Dutch Reformed Church stopped the previous Friday. “With the President’s announcement on Monday night it seemed we would not be able to provide any service to the elderly, sick, needy and homeless people in our area,” Hartmann said. He added that the United Church and people in the community are worried about how people in need would be fed during the lockdown. “Until we have clarification our hands are pretty much tied,” he said.
The DA Constituency Head for the Overstrand, Masizole Mnqasela, also shared his concerns about the vulnerable. He says: “People with disabilities, children and the elderly will find it difficult to make it through this period, but with the support and love from the whole of society the situation could be salvaged.”
He recently made a call for urgent humanitarian assistance in Hermanus, and asked residents to lend a helping hand. “The Overstrand is blessed with people who have warm and the kindest of hearts. I thank them for every ounce of support and the overwhelming response pouring with love to my call for support.”
According to Joshua Chigome, spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, guidelines have been developed for how to manage homelessness during this period. This is in line with the State of Disaster Protocols, which has been shared with all related departments and municipalities.
“It was agreed that the Disaster Management Provincial Joint Operations Centre recognises that municipalities are responsible for homeless people, and for providing alternative accommodation, such as community halls, to house them.”
Chigome explains this is the standard procedure during large-scale disasters, such as flooding, fires and xenophobic violence. “Where needed, social development will assist in augmenting these municipalities’ interventions as it relates to food security. However, we have seen there are local support networks of care willing to assist.”
The homeless in the Overstrand are currently being housed at Moffat Hall in Mount Pleasant. The building is occupied by 37 homeless people.
According to a statement by the Overstrand Municipality, Law Enforcement officers will collect homeless people from the Overstrand area and take them to Moffat Hall. “Please do not transport homeless people yourself, rather phone 028 313 8996 with a request to pick them up, with a time and location the person was last seen in.
“We appeal to the community not to take food directly to Moffat Hall. All food should be dropped off in the marked trolleys at food stores when shopping.”
Chigome added the department was communicating with various facilities around proper hygiene, physical distancing and infectious disease protocols. “Homeless people will be referred to health facilities if need be. The department is also working with NGOs to provide extra mattresses, food, and care packs for the poor.”Phone 028 313 8996 if you see any homeless people in need. Law Enforcement will pick them up.
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