NINE months have passed since the City of Cape Town allocated R1,6million to a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme, but the money has yet to be spent.
The delay is apparently caused by the need for legal compliance.
According to Good Hope Subcouncil chairperson JP Smith, there is "no reason to panic" as the money has been distributed to the various organisations involved in the programme, and they are apparently ready to render their services.
The main aim of the programme is to make rehab facilities available to people who are referred by the court or referred to NGOs.
The project will focus on adult vagrants in the Atlantic Seaboard and Cape Town CBD areas who suffer from a substance abuse problem.
The main emphasis will be on alcohol abuse, says Smith, who has been lobbying to get the project running for close on five years.
Fiona Cloete, senior prosecutor at the Cape Town Community Court, explains that the legal compliance "relates to accreditation and the legal registration of institutes, as a person can only be sent by the court to an organisation that is registered".
She adds that certain institutions involved don't work with people who have criminal records - a problem, as many of the people on the streets have a criminal history.
Apparently, these legal compliances are set to be finalised in a meeting next week involving all roleplayers, and the project is set to be running by next month.
* the City of Cape Town;
* the Department of Justice;
* the National Prosecuting Authority;
* the Haven Night Shelter;
* the Ark, an in-patient drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Blue Downs; and
* Ramot, a rehabilitation centre in Parow that does not provide accommodation.
There are two legs to the project, explains Smith - the first is the Haven and Ramot programme; the second is the Ark programme.
In the Haven-Ramot half of the programme, Ramot will supply treatment, and the Haven will accommodate those who are undergoing treatment. Those who are to benefit from the Haven and Ramot programmes will be people identified by a probation officer and referred through the court system.
Cloete says that many repeat offenders keep going through the courts, and that one needs to identify and divert them."
"That diversion is to address their drug and alcohol problem through this programme," she says.
The employment of a probation officer is apparently to be discussed at the meeting.
In the Ark's programme, people will receive accommodation and treatment under one roof.
The Ark will rely on fieldworkers to identify people on the streets who have not been treated, but who are presenting problems.
Both legs of the project will be assessed to establish which one works best.
"You need to understand that we are sailing in uncharted water and must experiment and research what will work best to ultimately get people clean and off the streets," Smith says.
Once the project is off the ground and producing results, an assessment will be made to determine possible changes to the programme's system. "There is a lot of learning to be done and we don't just want to throw money away if it is not working," Smith says.
Haven CEO Hassan Khan agrees: "It is an excellent programme as a study, but results should first be obtained before going out and spending more money."
Anton le Grange from the Ark says, "We are going along with the programme to see what good can come from it. We are here to give our lives to help people".
Smith says that R5 million has been approved for fighting substance abuse in the next financial year, commencing next month, but the funds are not all going to this pilot project.
He says, however, that the pilot project will be sustained throughout the year.
The director of Ramot, Petrus Theron, was unavailable for comment.