Covid-19: Lockdown affords homeless shelter in Louis Trichardt

Shelter came as a relief, says a 23-year-old, who used to sleep at a car wash

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Photo of mattresses on floor
Homeless people in Louis Trichardt have been accommodated in a shelter during the lockdown. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

The lockdown has finally brought shelter for 17 homeless people in Louis Trichardt.

“We are comfortably staying at this place during this lockdown period,” said Blessing Moyo, one of the homeless people brought by police to a shelter at Makhado showground last week.

Moyo, 23, who is Zimbabwean, has been living outside a car wash next to Makhado Crossing mall for a year. Some of the others in the shelter are also Zimbabweans, and some are from Malawi.

There has been no shelter for homeless people in Louis Trichardt for almost two years after Tshitandani Child Care Centre in Tshikota was closed in 2018 by the Department of Social Development. The shelter used to accommodate about 20 homeless people.

Moyo said, “I had to leave Zimbabwe at the end of 2018 in search of work in South Africa. My first stop was Musina, but I could not find any form of employment so I went on to Louis Trichardt. I requested to stay next to a car wash next to Makhado crossing. Fortunately, the owner of the car wash at times asked me to assist washing cars and paid me according to the number of cars I wash per day. On average I used to get almost R100.” The car wash is now closed.

Dino Mavesera, also from Zimbabwe, said: “I really wanted to be in Pretoria but I had no money for transport. I decided to look for any casual jobs here in Louis Trichardt but could not get any. Life was very hard for me. I could go for days without food. I used to sleep at an open space near Makhado Crossing Mall,” he said, adding that the shelter came as a relief at the moment.

When Groundup visited the shelter the men were listening to Zimbabwean music on a mobile phone.

Communities around Louis Trichardt and the municipality have donated food. The meals are prepared by volunteers from Tshikota. The men have three meals per day.

Two rooms have been made available, with mattresses and blankets, but they say they are short of soap.

Asked what their plans will be after the lockdown, some said they would go on to Gauteng; others said they were not sure yet of their plans.

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TOPICS:  Covid-19 Homeless Immigration

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