RIGHT OF REPLY
Having already responded to the outdated information reported by the Mail & Guardian on April 25, and having repeated these corrections on numerous media platforms, it calls into question the intention of publishing the same falsehoods by Jared Sacks in his opinion piece, “Blindness: How the Strandfontein camp was set up to fail.”
Sacks claims that the city is implementing “apartheid’s doctrine of development by removal and separation … with a vengeance”, that the homeless are “a scourge” and viewed as “a societal cancer” placed in an “internment camp”, that they are “detainees” and that “preventing Cape Town’s most vulnerable from getting the virus was never the actual aim” as the homeless are viewed as “a societal virus”’ with the Strandfontein camp used as “an attempt to restructure where people live”.
Not everyone holds this view, including people who stayed at the Strandfontein temporary shelter.
Everybody has a right to say what they want, because this is the joy and protection we are given when it comes to free speech. But certain absurdities are seldom entertained by the mainstream media and remain in blogs, online chat forums and tweets where the author can make whatever outlandish claim they choose. Sadly, no longer seems to apply. By the time the false claim is corrected, the damage has been done, and the media have moved on to the next issue, with scant regard for any damage caused.
After some initial problems were addressed during the first few days of setting up the site in record time, these are some of the services offered and successes achieved at the Strandfontein temporary shelter:
•Accommodation in 24 weather-proof tents, with blankets and mattresses for each person. An experienced person from a nongovernmental organisation overseeing the well-being of the occupants of each tent.
• Separate sleeping facilities for women. Families have been placed in appropriate facilities. There are currently no children on-site.
• An on-site medical facility staffed by at least 15 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and volunteers. And 1 352 persons have been provided with chronic and clinical treatment for conditions such as tuberculosis, HIV, diabetes, hypertension and epilepsy.
• 272 people were tested for TB and 24 were placed on treatment and isolated
• 1 858 people were screened for Covid-19. A total of 153 tests were conducted. 139 test results have returned as negative, 13 are still pending, and one result was confirmed as positive by a private facility after the individual had left the site. Relevant tracking and tracing protocols are being implemented to identify other close contacts.
• More than 120 people have been re-integrated with their families
• 4 500 meals were served daily
• Each person was issued with a vanity pack including a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and facecloth
• Live music was played in the evenings, and activities such as board games were available
• Ablution, laundry and hot shower facilities were provided.
The above facts have been shared on many platforms, yet continue to be ignored by some organisations and individuals. A free and fair media is critical to ensure that those in power are held accountable, and to ensure that the public remains informed. While free speech must always be protected, so too should propaganda not be given a platform in credible media outlets.
Greg Wagner is the spokesperson for Dan Plato, the executive mayor of Cape Town