Days numbered for Struben Street shelter for homeless in Pretoria CBD, Newsline

Pretoria – The contorversial No 2 Struben Street shelter for the homeless in the CBD will be subjected to a “phased closure” and eventually decommissioned post lockdown.

MEC of Social Development, Dr Nomathembu Mokgethi, informed the occupants during a visit yesterday.

The MEC was on a tour of various homeless shelters to inform people about an exit strategy at the end of the lockdown. Mokgethi was accompanied by officials from the department and the City of Tshwane.

The tour started at the Youth for Survival Skills Development Centre on Johannes Ramokhoase Street. From there they made their way to Youth for Survival Vep Centre on Vom Hagen Street in Pretoria West, ending at No2 Struben Street.

Mokgethi was particularly touched by the living conditions at No 2 Struben Street.

She was greeted by a stench at the entrance, and her tour of the building went from bad to worse.

“I must say that of all the regions we have visited so far, this shelter has to be the worst.

“This is no place for humans to live in; in fact not even animals deserve to live like this,” she told the Pretoria News.

Dirty clothes and debris and drug needles littered the grimy floors.

Mokgethi tried to interact with various residents at the home, who all had one thing to say: “Please get us out of here, we can’t live like this.”

Mokgethi said they, together with the City of Tshwane, decided to decommission the dilapidated building. The process will start today, with the Department of Home Affairs and labour coming to register the tenants.

The only municipal-owned shelter for the homeless in the city centre is housed in a dilapidated building, it is overcrowded and its flooded toilets are infested with worms.

Drug use and drug-resistant TB strains have become a reality for the homeless who rely on it as a refuge.

According to Mokgethi, it would cost about R10million to fully refurbish the building. “Luckily the City of Tshwane has a budget and we would be able to work from that,” she said.

The people at the shelter, which was established in 2004, will be moved to various shelters around the city.

“But our main priority will be the elderly and then the disabled – and there seems to be a handful of those at No 2 Struben Street,” the MEC said.

New chairperson at No 2 Struben Street, Solly Hadebe, hoped this time the government and City would deliver on their promises.

He said the past three mayors had promised change, but nothing came to fruition. Habebe said the shelter had been left to decay.

He said the non-profit organisation tasked to temporarily manage it had not had its contract renewed.

Hadebe, who is wheelchair-bound and lives at the shelter, said he was dismayed at its current state.

“There is very little security. Small children wander aimlessly around and this place, which was meant to be a safe haven for the homeless but has become a hub for drug users,” he said.

Pretoria News