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‘Skills for the homeless’


“We are still waiting for the skills development courses they promised us.”
These are the words of a homeless man who has been residing at the Polokwane Showgrounds for the past six months in hope of leaving with skills that will assist him in finding a job.
The Department of Social Development offered homeless people shelter during the lockdown, to prevent them from lingering in the street after curfew.
The Polokwane Showgrounds served as a temporary shelter for homeless people in the Capricorn District.
The man says he would have left the shelter and gone back home if it had not been for the promise to educate the homeless during the lockdown by Social Development.
Departmental Spokesperson, Witness Tiva previously told Polokwane Observer that the department will be empowering the homeless people with skills that will be of assistance to them after the lockdown. “We have various skills that are being offered to homeless people, and some of them are assisted with finishing their basic education.”
The homeless man has refuted these claims though stating that none of this has been offered to them.
Contacted for comment, Tiva said the department assisted the homeless in applying to further their education.
“At the Capricorn District shelter which is in Polokwane, I personally know of one person who is a university dropout that has been assisted to further his studies with the help of other government structures. The department is not offering formal courses, the skills development programme we earlier referred to was a programme that offers assistance and not qualifications.”
According to Tiva, it is not practical for the department, taking into consideration its core responsibilities, to offer education to the people.
“One other thing to consider is that during the lockdown, there was no movement which means even if we would have loved to help them get space in tertiary institutions it would not have been possible because they were also on lockdown.”
On the other hand the department plans to collapse and merge some of its temporary shelters that were commissioned to accommodate homeless people during the national state of disaster based on the move to lockdown level one and the decrease in beneficiaries.
As long as the country is still under lockdown, the department will continue to provide accommodation to those who need it, however most of the shelters have become redundant, Tiva said.
Initially the department was housing 350 people of which 33 were in the Capricorn district and there are only 149 people in their shelters of which nine are based at the shelter in Polokwane.

Story: Umpha Manenzhe