Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz has commended the community of Khayelitsha and the department’s numerous stakeholders for their efforts in flattening the curve of COVID-19.
“As a province, we continue to face a pandemic which has taken many lives and destabilised our economy, resulting in many becoming unemployed. However, the outcome could have been far more severe had we not had the support of Khayelitsha’s residents, NGOs and healthcare workers,” Fritz said on Monday.
Fritz particularly recognised the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF), as the department’s main partner in working to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in the area.
He also acknowledged the role played by departmental and the City of Cape Town officials, who worked hard to stop the spread of COVID-19, often sacrificing their personal time for the wellbeing of Khayelitsha as a whole.
At the start of COVID-19 pandemic, the MEC said the provincial government assembled the COVID-19 hotspot plan whereby each provincial department was allocated a “COVID-19 hotspot”, identified by data which indicated that the virus was spreading rapidly in that community.
“Each department was charged with managing the activities and interventions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Community Safety was charged with overseeing the Khayelitsha and Eastern hotspot.
“There were numerous interventions in Khayelitsha, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, which were supported by stakeholders across the community. I believe that these interventions have played a significant role in lowering the transmission of COVID-19,” Fritz said.
The KDF was among the key partners in supporting the department’s response to the virus, where the MEC met with its executive leadership early last year to establish an integrated COVID-19 steering committee.
The committee met every Sunday evening with the Community Safety and Health Departments, and relevant stakeholders.
“The strength in these engagements was that the KDF brought us into direct contact with the ‘movers and shakers’ of Khayelitsha, to ensure that our projects were implemented, and that messaging was received.
“We equally included members of the KDF into the department’s Whole of Society Approach (WoSA) meetings, giving the KDF a platform to raise concerns related to COVID-19 in Khayelitsha to an inter-governmental platform who could take action.”
Among the interventions and programmes driven in Khayelitsha to lower the transmission of COVID-19, included the deployment of 60 Chrysalis graduates to assist in COVID-19 compliance at malls and other places of gathering from June 2020.
Prior to their deployment, they received training on COVID-19 from Doctors Without Borders.
The department also launched the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Safety Improvement Volunteers Project with COVID-19 relief measures. This was marked by the handover of 15 starter kits to NHW structures.
The deployment of the NHWs aimed to provide health advocacy through the promotion of social distancing and utilising personal protective equipment.
During the first wave, Fritz noted that Khayelitsha was among the hardest hit communities in the city and the province, with infections reaching a high of 168 cases on 24 May, based on a seven-day moving average.
However, during the second peak the city saw a considerably lower number of cases per day recorded, with a high of 74 on 16 December 2020.
“While the second peak shows a more positive outcome, it did not come without tremendous loss for many families in Khayelitsha. I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to all who lost loved ones to the virus. We cherish and honour the memory of those who have passed.”
Fritz warned that there is still a lot more work to be done and “we cannot let our guard down just yet as we are still facing a pandemic and need to rebuild our economy.”
“I urge the residents of Khayelitsha to continue getting tested should they have any symptoms and to go to hospital should they experience shortness of breath. At the same, let us continue washing our hands, wearing our masks correctly and avoiding gatherings of any kind as we are still amid a pandemic,” Fritz said.