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‘I Know People Are Dying. That’s Why I Came Here’ – Homeless To Be Housed In Durban On Day One Of Lockdown


Homeless people in Durban were still clumped together on Friday in an attempt to receive assistance from the government during the first day of lockdown.

While services are still being offered to assist the underprivileged, a line snaked down the road outside the exhibition centre opposite the Hilton Hotel.

The chairperson of the eThekwini task team on homelessness, Raymond Perrier, said help was being offered to the needy in the city.

“We are processing maybe 700, maybe 800 people in the queue. Most have made their own way here, some have been brought here by metro transport.

“Somebody texted me and said there was a guy at the beachfront who cannot walk and asked if we could send someone. Metro went through immediately and fetched him.”

Perrier said various officials were ready to assist the homeless.

“We’ve got social workers and nurses from the Department of Health and NGOs. We’ll do health tests on everybody.”

‘I just know people are dying. That is why I came here.’

Perrier said they would move people to other locations, thereafter.

“We will move people from here to seven different locations across the city. So, there are 100 people in each location. Altogether, there is enough space for 1 000 people and that’s where they will be locked down.”

He added the homeless would find good living conditions at their lockdown locations.

“There’s cover and there’s outdoor space. They won’t be locked indoors for 21 days. They will get food there and there will be nurses coming every day. We are trying to make it as safe and comfortable for them during this period.”

Sipho Khuzwayo, who has been homeless for 11 years, told News24 he joined the long line outside the exhibition centre for food.

“They never tell us anything. They said we must come here and maybe they will give us something to eat. I am sick and [need to get] treatment.”

Khuzwayo added he was aware of the coronavirus but did not know how it would impact him.

“I just know people are dying. That is why I came here. They said we must come here [the exhibition centre]. We don’t know where we are going to stay.”

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