DURBAN - THE number of homeless people on the streets of Pietermaritzburg is a concern and the Msunduzi Municipality says it is doing all it can to reunite them with their families.
The number of homeless people has grown more rapidly over the past few years leading to complaints from businesses and members of the public.
Some businesses have, in the past, claimed that homeless people were sleeping in their store fronts, polluting and harassing their customers. Some have claimed they were driven to bankruptcy or out of the CBD by homeless people.
Giving an address on the positives that have been achieved during his tenure at the helm of the Msunduzi Municipality, mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said the city has to tackle the issue of homeless people.
“We remain concerned with a growing number of homeless children roaming our Streets,” he said.
“During the level 5 lockdown we managed to move them to safe places and provided meals. As soon as the opportunity presented itself they were back on the streets again.
“We are partnering with numerous NGOs to once again achieve the goal of connecting them with their families and/or skill them to enable them to be self-sufficient,” he said.
During the lockdown, more than 500 people had lived in the city’s shelters. Millions of rand had been spent on preparing shelters to be fit for human habitation.
In one case the city had paid close to R3 million to fix electricity in one shelter leading to complaints from other councillors that the cost was exorbitant.
Speaking on the city’s future plans, Thebolla highlighted numerous targets he believed would improve the fortunes of the city,
Among these was the creation of legacy ventures in the manufacturing sector as a bedrock for the creation of sustainable jobs. “This may be achieved through encouraging individuals and businesses with lucrative business ideas to partner with the municipality.
“As we conclude our term of office, we have made significant improvements. However, we could do better and we will do better. While we may have started on a back foot, we have tried to show the high-level account of work done in turning the City...” he said.