OPEN LETTER | DA calls on BCM to identify shelters for the homeless during Covid-19 pandemic

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The Buffalo City Municipality is blatantly refusing to conform to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s directive to urgently identify shelters for the homeless and distressed while the Covid-19 pandemic is sweeping our country.

Today, 27 March 2020,  I was informed that the Metro has not identified any areas or community halls for the Department of Social Development to use as shelters.

The BCM Municipal Manager, Mr Andile Sihlahla, was not even aware that it’s the Municipality’s mandate during this state of emergency to provide shelter in terms of regulation 11d (2)(a) of the Disaster Management Act. Section 27 (2) of 2002.

This regulation states that the State shall identify temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards for homeless people.

The Eastern Cape Department of Social Development wrote to all municipal managers in the province to confirm shelters to be utilised.

When I called the contact person for the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development, Mr. Qabisa, I was told BCM felt it's not their mandate and asked assistance to compel them to do so.

This unwillingness to cooperate was confirmed to me by the Executive Mayor, Cllr Xola Pakati.

I have written to the Municipal Manager to remind him of the Metro’s duty to the more than 300 homeless people struggling for survival in BCM.

The Mayor's inability to ensure that various political parties are part of discussions have stifled proper communication to the residents of BCM.

DA councillors are willing to assist in identifying community centres and shelters.

We cannot fail South Africans during this time.

We can overcome the spread of COVID-19 if we work together.

Chantel King MP - BCM Constituency Leader