Residents urged to stay at home

Salamander Road in Hangberg was a hive of activity on the first weekend of the lockdown. However, many locals remained behind closed doors in line with the lockdown restrictions.

While the national 21-day lockdown has seen most parts of Cape Town shutting down, it seems many Hangberg locals failed to get the message.

Joyous celebrations, children playing in the street, gatherings on the corner as well as people basking in the sun are the last things you want to see during the lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed the nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus, only allowing for essential workers such as security services, medical staff, firefighters, those producing or supplying foods, to be exempted from the lockdown. The only exceptions for people to venture outside is to buy food, medicine or when they require medical care.

The Hout Bay Community Policing Forum (CPF) posted on social media that in the first few days of the lockdown, members of the police and the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement were pelted with stones by residents in the area.

“We cannot believe that SAPS and law enforcement have been stoned while trying to enforce lockdown in IY and Hangberg,” the post read.

It further stated: “Those responsible who are carrying on as if it’s a huge party should be ashamed. You are putting yourself and your community in harm’s way and risking your very lives with this virus.”

The CPF also called on locals to refrain from contacting police with questions around permissible movement during lockdown.

“You are tying up lines for emergency calls. Read the regulations, other than food, medicine, medical emergencies, you cannot move around without the needed permit,” the CPF said.

Permits are granted to workers falling under essential services, as they are required to be registered and receive a permit issued by a registered company.

“Even the SAPS officers have to have these to move around,” the CPF said.

Warren Abrahams, spokesperson for the Peace and Mediation Forum, said he was concerned with the amount of people failing to adhere to the regulations of the lockdown.

“Some community members and myself are still very upset as some people are walking around, children up and down to the shops, some drinking on corners and some going on like it is a holiday,” he said.

He also pointed out the poor police visibility, saying it was”non-existent” in the area.

Mr Abrahams said the community is calling on the police to make themselves visible and asking that they advise people to remain indoors.

Community activist, Roscoe Jacobs, accompanied police around Hangberg to request that residents abide by the National State of Disaster Regulations.

“Some people in the community are not complying, which frustrates the many who are complying and staying in their homes,” he said.

Mr Jacobs also appealed to the provincial Department of Health to share statistics on the virus with the community in order to further educate locals about the rapid spread of the virus.

“You don’t see the stats of the more leafy suburbs and this is a concern, because our people travel to these areas for work. Such information is of critical importance to us, because there is talk of two people having been tested positive for the virus and we don’t know how true this is,” Mr Jacobs said. He also commended police for their efforts during lockdown: “Despite having very limited resources”.

He explained that community members have requested more police and army presence around the Hangberg and Imizamo Yethu community with the aim of tackling the amount of people still roaming the streets during lockdown.

“When there is no police or army presence, people tend to do as they please and we really want to ensure that this is a 21 day lockdown and no further than that,” Mr Jacobs said.

He also questioned the operating hours of spaza shops and businesses within Hangberg. “These places (businesses) are keeping people outside and I think this needs to be regulated even further in order for us to fight this virus together,” Mr Jacobs said.

Cheryl Morrison from Hangberg was appalled to see the number of people not following the lockdown regulations.

On Saturday March 28, she said a number of boys were seen playing in the streets, despite being told to stay indoors. “I asked one of them if they knew why our country was on lockdown, he replied and said his mother chased him outside to play,” she said with a puzzled look on her face.

“It starts with the parents. The parents are also under lockdown, but instead, we have people who think this is a holiday and just another reason to get rid of their kids.”

In another part of Hangberg lives William Taylor. He doesn’t understand why locals cannot see the dangers of the virus.

“This virus is killing people and our country’s stats is growing quite fast. If we do not act now, we are going to find ourselves facing permanent lockdown,” he said.

On Friday March 27, Mr Taylor said a group of guys were drinking and gambling on the corners, with some children still playing in the streets.

“We need more police presence and it needs to be constant. The army must make an appearance and instil fear in our people, because maybe the army will push you around a bit, but this virus will kill you,” Mr Taylor warned.