'Tshwane owes us for feeding the homeless'

25 June 2020 - 09:01
By Thulani Mbele and Isaac Mahlangu
Homeless person Leonard Baloyi, 35, relaxes in one of the tents at a shelter set up  in Lyttelton, Centurion, yesterday.  /  Thulani Mbele.
Homeless person Leonard Baloyi, 35, relaxes in one of the tents at a shelter set up in Lyttelton, Centurion, yesterday. / Thulani Mbele.

A group of service providers who fed the homeless at temporary shelters which were set up to curb the spread of Covid-19 are embroiled in a payment dispute with a Gauteng metro.

One of the service providers, who are on the City of Tshwane's supplier database, claims to be owed as much as R1.2m for providing food for the homeless housed in tented shelters across the capital.

Phindile Kabinde, a businesswoman from Centurion, said she was owed around R700,000. Kabinde said they were now being given a run-around when they demand their payments.

In one of the emails dated June 8, a city official confirmed the acquiring of her services for three meals a day for 465 people at five temporary shelters across the city over two days - June 10 and 11.

The email from the official specified what type of food had to be supplied, including six slices of bread for breakfast to be served with jam, butter and peanut butter.

"My invoice to Tshwane is currently sitting on around R700,000. I'm totally unhappy with how things turned out because they (politicians) were shining in the media with our monies... no one wants to account and now blame is being shifted," she said.

Kabinde was among the service providers who met with Tshwane acting manager Mavela Dlamini on Tuesday to enquire about payments.

"The acting city manager told us we need to ask those that requested our services for our payments because apparently proper procedures were not followed," she said.

Dlamini confirmed meeting the service providers but said he believed that food at the shelters for the homeless was being provided by non-governmental organisations.

"From the city's records, there is no budget allocation for this service and it had always been reported that the food parcels were being provided by NGOs," Dlamini said.

He said "none of the service providers had any documentation that was a formal, or any semblance of a purchase order for the service" or "any formal instructions that solicited the service".

Dlamini said he advised them to email all the documentation and their claims will go to his office for consideration. He said the city would seek to hold to account the managers that may be found to be responsible for any breach of procurement processes.

When Sowetan visited one of the shelters in Lyttleton yesterday, it found dozens of homeless people housed there, having gone for days without hot water and toiletries.

Although a truck which delivered food arrived around 9am, taking a bath had seemingly become a luxury at the shelter, which is one of the biggest in Tshwane.

Joseph Makofane, 24, said they only received toiletries when they arrived at the shelter in March. "We have run out of toiletries. The showers have been closed and there is no hot water for bathing," he said.

Tshepiso Makonyane, 37, another homeless man, said sleeping in the tent is unbearable.

"There is no social distancing, we have to sleep close to each other because it is very cold in the tent, our blankets get wet from the dew that leaks in from the roof of the tent," Makonyane said.