Is this not the fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? – Isaiah 58:6
As part of the Western Cape Ecumenical Network (WCEN) and other Denominational and Faith-Based Organisations Coalitions, the Warehouse would like to encourage all Church leaders to take part in standing for the most vulnerable amongst us.
Please can we ask that you consider doing the following:
1. Cut and paste the following message into the body of an email
2. Address this email to Zahid Badroodien <Zahid.Badroodien@capetown.gov.za> the Mayco member responsible for the site, and the Mayor Dan Plato <email@example.com> as well as your ward councillor (see bottom of this message for directions to find their email address)
3. Sign the message with your name and the Church community you represent
4. Ask other Church leaders in your fraternals and local ecumenical groups to do the same.
Dear Councillor Badroodien, Mayor Plato and <insert ward councillor name here>
Since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced NGOs, churches and other civil society coalitions have raised deep concerns about the care for our homeless neighbours. I and many of my church members have worked amongst the homeless of Cape Town and have personal relationships with many of those affected by COVID-19 in general and the City of Cape Town’s decisions in particular.
I write to you to express my opposition, as a Church leader, to the City’s policy of removing people to mass sites like the one at Strandfontein. Mass sites are a security response rather than a caring, health response in the midst of a healthcare crisis. Having implemented this policy over the past week it seems clear that the key health (medical, physical, psycho-social, spiritual) and humanitarian (food, shelter, water) provisions are not yet in place or have failed to be considered.
In the spirit of the COVID-19 regulations and the care of the most vulnerable amongst us, I believe that smaller, well-planned and well-managed sites are both critical and possible. Across the City, there are communities where buildings, including Civic centres, stand empty with experienced and skilled NGOs, professionals and volunteers who are willing to assist in partnership with respective government departments. I would urge you to recognise these social, human and infrastructural resources which are being offered.
I call on you to engage these stakeholders, to identify alternatives to mass sites and to move those who are currently being held at the Strandfontein site into these alternatives. As a matter of urgency, I add my voice to the call for
– an immediate reduction of the numbers that are currently being sheltered at the Strandfontein site and other mega-sites in the city
– an immediate cessation of force within these sites
– immediate provision of appropriate key health and humanitarian services
The City, NGOs and church bodies can and should talk together about the best possible way to resolve this matter so that all human beings are given the dignity they deserve. We remember with hope the partnerships that were forged in 2008 when thousands of people were housed in church buildings around the city and then reintegrated into society afterwards. I believe that this can happen again. I join in asking for partnerships to be forged between churches and the CoCT in order for us to be able to use our sites to house between 10-20 people each.
Many churches are already involved in local partnerships in their neighbourhoods to care for the vulnerable and disenfranchised and can use those relationships to support the most vulnerable, including the elderly, those with existing physical or mental conditions and those needing careful medical attention for substance withdrawal management.
On this Easter weekend, one of the holiest times in the Christian calendar, we are reminded of the sacrifice of Christ – a sacrifice made for all who are created in the image of God, including each of our brothers and sisters who call different parts of the City home. I call on the City of Cape Town to move towards a solution that reflects the sacredness of each member of our society.
(To find out who your Ward Councillor is, go to the site below, type your suburb into the search box, press search, scroll down and click on the name of your Councillor. This link should take you to a page with their email address on it. Please copy and paste that into your message to Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member responsible for the site and the Mayor Dan Plato)