Gauteng's homeless to be housed at schools during lockdown: Lesufi

25 March 2020 - 14:51 By Aphiwe Deklerk
Homeless people in Gauteng are being offered accommodation at school boarding houses during the 21-day shutdown, says education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Homeless people in Gauteng are being offered accommodation at school boarding houses during the 21-day shutdown, says education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Image: Sunday Times/Alaister Russel

Gauteng's government is planning to move homeless people, who largely depend on begging to survive, into public schools for the duration of the 21-day lockdown.

Addressing the media with cabinet colleagues on Wednesday, education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the provincial government had identified a number of schools with boarding facilities to house the homeless.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the 21-day lockdown on Monday, to start on Thursday, as a response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus.

Gauteng is regarded as the epicentre of the virus in SA, with a total of 366 cases on Wednesday this week.

Lesufi said the move was largely because the homeless depended on the movement of people to beg and with the lockdown, they would be affected.

He said these were mainly people who slept on the street and under the bridges in cities around the province.

“We identified them as a group that needs to be sheltered firstly, for a period of a month, that covers the period of the 21 days, but also that need to be fed because they rely on begging,” said Lesufi.

“With the number of people that are no longer on the roads to beg from, they might be on their own.”

He said the provincial government would also be working to strengthen NGOs helping the homeless.

“We are now relocating ... all willing homeless people into our schools. There are schools that have ... boarding facilities, because schools are closed now.

“We are now persuading all homeless people. There is a team that has gone out to negotiate or speak to them, that it would be in their interest to be accommodated in our schools.”

He said authorities would mainly target CBDs as that was where most of the homeless were found.

But he stressed that unless the security cluster of ministers said otherwise, the provincial government would not forcefully remove the homeless. They would instead take only those who are willing to move.


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