Tshwane has been left with no choice but to shut the doors to the only metro-operated homeless shelter.
No. 2 Struben Street was established around 2005 and became home to over 600 homeless people during its years of operation.
At some stage, however, rent mafia hijacked the shelter and began charging the vulnerable for their stay at the facility.
Although the metro regained control of the building, it failed to attend to its structural maintenance.
The shelter will soon shut its doors as ordered by the Gauteng MEC of social development, agriculture, rural development and environment, Mbali Hlophe after she undertook a raid at the facility this month.
Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the city’s plan after the raid and budget cut to the shelter was to shut down the facility and relocate residents to alternative accommodation.
“The place has been declared unsafe for the people to stay in and several homeless shelters have been identified to accommodate the homeless,” said Mashigo.
He said the building would now remain empty, while plans were outlined to use the facility in the future.
“The facility will be sealed off to avoid invasion. When the funds become available, the facility will be upgraded.”
The provincial social development department has withheld R11-million of funding to Kitso Lesedi, the NPO appointed to care for shelter residents.
Mashigo said Tshwane was not involved in the funding arrangements between the NPO and the department.
He said the residents would be moved to various shelters managed by NPOs across Tshwane which had formal agreements with the metro.
Mashigo said these shelters were mainly based in the inner city.
He said the Struben Street shelter remained the only one managed by the metro, however, the municipality’s strategy was not to establish more shelters, but to support NPOs in their establishment of more shelters within the city.
The shelter in the Pretoria CBD was ordered to halt operations and its financial support was cut after it was raided by the provincial government, together with police.
The department found the facility to be non-compliant and that it was poorly servicing the hundreds of residents.
Tshwane declared the shelter that was home to a recorded 34 children, 72 women, 238 men, 65 senior citizens and seven people with disability was unsanitary, unsafe and uninhabitable.
In 2021, the metro had promised to refurbish it and pleaded for the Gauteng government to give it R23.5-million for that purpose but then the facility was subjected to a phased closure since none of these plans ever took off.
Tshwane had blamed its inability to refurbish the site on its poor financial standing.
The MEC acted in November, ensuring that R11-million of funding towards operating the facility was halted.
Hlope said during his State of the Province address, that Premier Panyaza Lesufi had demanded the department investigate the NPOs it injected money into.
The investigations sought to verify if the department was receiving value for its money and that the human rights of the vulnerable were protected.
The troubled No.2 Struben shelter fell under the provincial spotlight after a shocking discovery at the site. Hlope said her team and law enforcement found the premises were flooded with waste and that its toilets were overflowing.
“People have even erected shacks in the building of the shelter. Police arrested undocumented individuals and those selling drugs and alcohol.”
The area was found not conducive for individuals to reside in.
“The facts are glaring… the building belongs to Tshwane, which together with the NPO in question, had to secure the upkeep of the shelter and failed to do this.”
Hlope has since informed the Tshwane MMC responsible for urgently shutting the facility down and moving its residents to a safe space.
“We are consistent in acting against non-compliant NPOs. Early this year, we stopped funding numerous NPOs for non-compliance.
“We remain unshaken in acting against those who want to milk the state for personal enrichment,” she said.
“The suspension of funding in this shelter is not an isolated case.
“Our work as Social Development is to ensure that the most vulnerable are serviced adequately in good and well-maintained spaces and it is also our responsibility to act against those that are contravening the law,” she said.
“We will stop at nothing to root out malpractices in this sector so our people are serviced in a dignified manner, instead of issuing media statements that are pointless and out of touch with reality,” said Hlophe.
“The funding for this facility has been cut and the department will announce the investigation outcomes in due course.”
????Shocking discovery at a Pretoria homeless shelter!???? MEC Mbali Hlophe ordered the closure of the facility and halted its funding due to unsanitary conditions and poor service. Residents were found living in shacks inside the building, with overflowing toilets and waste flooding the premises. ???????? The department is investigating the shelter for non-compliance and malpractices. ???????????? See more in my bio. rekordnewspaper homelessshelter shutdown unsanitaryconditions malpractices southafrica gauteng #pretoria | REKORD NEWS
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