On 29 September the occupants of 10 Mordaunt St Jeppestown were forcibly removed by the red ants. As a result the building next door to 10 Morduant, which had nothing to do with the eviction, and no knowledge it was taking place, also caught alight. Groups from both buildings lost the little they had including ID documents, ARV medication and birth certificates of their children, all in the trauma of a blaze and forced removal from the property.
Because of the many generous people of Jozi and abroad such, and volunteers on the ground, the displaced and venerable victims received items and support they desperately needed in the days that followed 29 September.
The emergency response depot set up by Bjala with the help of local community and volunteers, at 28 Madison St Jeppstown, handed out relief packs in 20L plastic buckets that included an inventory relevant to gender and age. Such items included toiletries, clothing, shoes, blankets, dry foods, feminine products, nappy’s, baby formula, baby wipes and other items of dignity to over 500 affected persons.
Dispensing from our depot of feminine products, nappies and baby formula took place daily together with Food stations being set up. Portable toilets were also made available throughout the period immediately following the eviction and fires.
The depot volunteers also captured beneficiary information such as name, age, gender, current location after being made homeless, medical needs and urgent needs. This data was captured to establish a baseline needs assessment of the affected community.
Funds donated have been used to pay for various items handed out over and above the many donations in kind received as well as for the hiring of portable toilets and purchasing of food.
Bjala made the decision that members of the affected community need to be involved in the decision making of distributing relief items and assessing the needs for themselves. Thus an inclusive community support committee has been established with members from the burnt and evicted buildings. Relief assets and resources were turned over to the affected group earlier in October and Bjala provided space at 33 Madison street for the community relief efforts to continue.
Approximately R45’000.00 has been raised to date and approximately. R 15’000.00 of funding remains in trust for the ongoing efforts that are being steered by the Community support committee.
Bjala along with several other stakeholders have been driving efforts to get accountability and responses from state and public bodies (with disappointingly little success) in parallel to the on-the-ground efforts by local community and general public.
The point needs to be made that the respective departments of the City and politicians who are responsible for response and action in circumstances such as these have not only failed in a direct response to this particular calamity but have in instances simply lied, abused power and failed in serving the most venerable in society in this instance and for several years now. This is a great injustice to not only those the City is meant to serve but to the many great individuals working within the City structures.
Bjala’s position is that this type of human rights contravention is avoidable and evictions in Jeppestown should be resisted and not take place until all alternatives are exhausted as no alternative accommodation exists! Commercial gain through property rights cannot be held above human rights and the two need not be mutually exclusive.
We thank all those on behalf of the Jeppestown community who assisted in any way. Bjala would also like to thank Streetlight Schools, Platinum Sketch Studios, Sticky Situations, Meals and Wheels, PLEASE, Dis-Chem and 94.7, Street Sleeper, Trust for Urban Housing Finance (TUHF), Rapid Studio, and the many amazing individuals that volunteered in this community support effort so far.
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