30 000 in derelict Joburg buildings
I’m trying to remember when Médecins Sans Frontires ever stepped in to look after the black people under Apartheid….Nope, I just can’t remember. Maybe it’s because it was never necessary? Yet, here they are in Joburg, looking after blacks who are living and breeding like rabbits. What has become of the once economically thriving city of Johannesburg? Hey FIFA, please remember to include this on your “must see” visitor list.
Johannesburg – At least 30 000 people are living in 45 derelict buildings in the Johannesburg Central Business District (CBD), Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF) said on Wednesday.
“MSF has independently identified 45 such buildings in the inner city where an estimated 30 000 people are staying in appalling living conditions,” said MSF Johannesburg field co-ordinator Sara Hjalmarson.
She said these represented only a handful of an estimated 1 000 buildings in Johannesburg that were derelict and being operated by gangs and building hijackers.
R50 a day rent
“These spaces are overcrowded with subdivided rooms in warren-like conditions, there is very poor or non-existent sanitation, people have difficult or no access to water, and they lack proper waste management and disposal.”
Despite these conditions, hijackers and gangs were charging as much as R50 a day in rent or R750 a month.
These living conditions often led to poor health. MSF’s clinic next to the Central Methodist Church once serviced primarily Zimbabwean migrants but over 70% of their patients now come from derelict buildings in the CBD.
“The main diagnoses at the MSF clinic are respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, gastro-intestinal conditions, skin conditions and stress-related ailments,” said Hjalmarson.
“Most of the diseases treated in the clinic are directly linked to unhygienic and overcrowded living conditions.”
The City of Johannesburg as well as the Gauteng department of community safety have committed to tackling the scourge of building hijackers and derelict buildings. However, this meant that residents were often evicted without other accommodation options.
According to MSF, four buildings had experienced evictions in the past nine months by police or the Red Ants. Each building had between 700 and 1 200 people living inside.
“MSF treated several residents injured during those evictions for severe bruising and open wounds received from the beatings with sticks and from rubber bullets,” said Hjalmarson.
She added that because the evicted people’s belongings were thrown into a pile, many of the clinic’s patients lose their medication, including much-need antiretrovirals.
“Days after the eviction, hundreds of people including pregnant women, children and people in critical medical condition, were lying on the pavement in the middle of the city with no access to basic necessities like toilets or proper food [and] exposed to weather conditions,” said Hjalmarson.
She was also “alarmed” by the “high rates” of tuberculosis (TB) cases.
In the last six months, 500 people had been tested for TB with 10% of them testing positive.
MSF head of mission Mickael le Paih said his organisation was working with the local department of health to tackle the lack of health care in the CBD.