Driving home lockdown regulations

2020-04-14 06:00
Residents are out and about as disaster risk management officials drive through the streets. PHOTO: Samantha Lee-Jacobs

Residents are out and about as disaster risk management officials drive through the streets. PHOTO: Samantha Lee-Jacobs

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The disregard of the national lockdown restrictions is evident in the streets of small communities where residents sit on street corners, chat with each other over their fences and children play in the streets.

There is even a four-man game of dominos on the go, partially hidden by a washing line hung full with clothes blowing in the wind.

This behaviour is mirrored in many other communities where Washiela Harris, councillor for ward 82, says residents have become more relaxed as a result of the lockdown winding down.

It was meant to end Thursday 16 April at midnight.

However, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday last week (9 April) that the lockdown will continue for an additional two weeks, until the end of the month.

Once again, he urged South Africans to adhere to the lockdown regulations in order for the country to return to normal.

During a ride-along with People’s Post in the ward, Harris highlighted some of the challenges in communities.

“People are out as if it’s the festive season. They think it’s more relaxed now because the lockdown is almost over,” says Harris.

She accompanied members of the local disaster risk management centre (DRMC) on an awareness drive through Tafelsig, on Thursday 9 April, in the hope that this would encourage residents to obey the lockdown rules.

With their green and white lights flashing, vehicles drove in convoy through the streets and to the local informal settlement.

As they went, officials, accompanied by traffic services, created awareness and shared vital information and tips on how to stay healthy via a loud hailer.

“We are doing this so that people can see the virus is real and it is serious,” Harris says.

They also handed out pamphlets provided by the City of Cape Town.

Efforts continued throughout the weekend.

The group also joined in on law enforcement drives.

Their important role in promoting awareness and assisting to bolster visibility has also initiated a drive for new volunteers.

The DRMC has called on all neighbourhood watches (NHWs), accredited with the department of community safety, to consider joining its volunteer database.

“This call is specifically linked to the City’s safety and security directorate’s Covid-19 disaster risk management efforts,” says Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith.

The volunteers are required to:

  • promote social distancing at supermarkets (and other shops);
  • promote social distancing at clinics;
  • promote social distancing at transport interchanges; and
  • patrol school grounds to prevent vandalism.

“It was agreed with NHWs two years ago that the City would deploy them with the next major disaster as part of the disaster relief efforts.

“This is our opportunity to evolve our relationship with NHWs to the next level and to demonstrate to everyone how versatile and proactive this important sector of community safety is,” says Smith.

“Neighbourhood watch members who want to make themselves available for this purpose will be provided with the necessary protective equipment and they will be properly briefed by the DRMC.

“They will also be formally appointed as DRM volunteers and be provided with the necessary permit to perform these essential services during the lockdown period.”

Accredited NHWs within the City’s boundaries are invited to nominate not more than 10 members for appointment as volunteers.

Volunteers will be contacted as the need arises and be deployed in their home areas.

“This will promote acceptance by local communities and will prevent unnecessary logistical arrangements. Please note that this is a call for volunteers only and no remuneration is attached to this initiative,” says Smith.

“The City is grateful that it can call on community members to assist on a voluntary basis.

“We value your willingness to participate and thank you in advance for selflessly putting yourself forward.

“Similarly, to those who are staying at home, please know that you are playing an equally big part in preventing the spread of Covid-19.”

  • Neighbourhood watch coordinators can communicate names and contact details of the volunteers to Charl Viljoen via email to charl.viljoen@capetown.gov.za.

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