Good Party Investigates R53m Spent on Strandfontein Homeless Camps

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The Good Party is investigating the R53 million spent on the Strandfontein homeless camp, describing it as “ludicrous” spending.

The party’s secretary-general, Brett Herron, said funds directed to the site was wasteful expenditure after local government MEC Anton Bredell, answered questions in the legislature, revealing that the cost of the operation amounted to at least R53 million.

“That’s approximately R26 500 per person (most of whom did not even stay at the camp throughout the six-week period), or a nightly rate of R520 per person to sleep in a marquee on a muddy field and 90% of the cost, or R48.4m, was incurred by the City’s Safety and Security Directorate,” Herron said.

A breakdown of the costs looks as follows: 
  • R43.8m to hire the marquees
  • R3.5 million spent on security
  • Transport cost of R450 000, or approximately R225 per person per bus ride.
  • Mattresses cost R376 000
  • water and sewage R238 000
  • Decontamination R18 000

Herron added that guest houses or hotels would have cost so much less, while also supporting the local hospitality industry and using e-hailing services would have halved the transport bill while supporting local drivers.

“I visited the camp on the day it was established, and was almost besieged by homeless people begging me to help them leave. I do not believe the camp was set up out of concern for homeless people,” said Herron. “Instead, it was a vehicle for Mayor Dan Plato and JP Smith to opportunistically implement their ideological dream to remove poor people from the inner-city to the fringes of the metro, where they are out of sight. From the figures, MEC Bredell was forced to reveal, it appears the camp may have also served the purpose of funnelling money to so-called Covidpreneurs.”

Herron said Good wanted to know where the R43m tents were procured from and what the process of selecting the contractors was as they believed the rental price tag was “grossly inflated”.

The party is expected to submit a complaint to the Auditor General for investigation on Thursday, 20 August.

In response, the City said it was surprising that Herron raised an issue with the money spent on the weatherproof tents, across multiple sites, to shelter the homeless.

As part of the City’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Strandfontein camp was set up for homeless people who were moved there from the streets.

The camp was welcomed with criticism, including critique from Doctors Without Borders, for its questionable living conditions.