Strandfontein ratepayers open case against City for violating lockdown rules at shelter

Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

NEWS | By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published Apr 20, 2020

Chairperson Mario Oostendurp said the City’s unlawful action failed to appreciate the serious risks they have created with the overcrowded camp.

Cape Town – The Strandfontein Ratepayers Association yesterday opened a criminal case against City manager Lungelo Mbandazayo and the Cape Town City Council for violating lockdown regulations.

By setting up an “overcrowded” camp for the homeless at the Strandfontein complex, the City manager and the council violated regulation 11D of the lockdown regulations, said association chairperson Mario Oostendurp.

“We as a community, and the Strandfontein community at large, are very concerned about the huge health risk posed by the city council’s establishment of a temporary shelter for homeless people at the Strandfontein Sports Complex.

“We understand that the city council had to respond to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and had to find accommodation for homeless people in the city, but this cannot be done in violation of the regulations.”

He said the City manager and the council’s unlawful action failed to appreciate the serious risks that they have created with the overcrowded camp.

“The high concentration of vulnerable and immune-compromised persons all together on a single site, could amount to a public health disaster with a potential negative impact for the homeless people and Strandfontein residents.

“The city manager and the city council have to follow the law and comply with the regulations. The purpose of the Covid-19 regulations is to limit the gathering of large numbers of people in one place.

“I request that the SAPS investigate the unlawful actions of the city manager and city council,” he said.

Strandfontein ward councillor Elton Jansen said Oostendurp was “exercising his constitutional right”.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said they noted the statement by Oostendurp and would await formal communication from police. He said the SA Human Rights Commission has been on site several times to conduct oversight visits.

“The shelter was set up in terms of the Disaster Act, on instruction from the national government, to mitigate the risk of street people contracting Covid-19; to ensure that, where cases do occur within this vulnerable group, they are treated timeously, and to provide a means of sustenance to street people whose economic lifeline has been cut by the national lockdown,” he said.

Despite challenges, City services included comprehensive screening, testing and isolating, where needed, at the Strandfontein facility, he added.

Police did not respond to queries by deadline.

Cape Times