Archive Photo: Masixole Feni

The Khayelitsha community has been commended for their concerted efforts in flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “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 highlighted the key role the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) played as the department’s main partner.

He also thanked departmental and City of Cape Town officials who sacrificed their own personal time for the wellbeing of Khayelitsha as a whole.

Fritz explained that various provincial departments were allocated responsibility for helping curb the spread of Coronavirus in Covid-19 hotspots that were identified in the Western Cape at the start of the pandemic. The Department of Community Safety was charged with overseeing the Khayelitsha and Eastern hotspot.

Every Sunday evening the Department met with the KDF, 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,” said Fritz.

Covid-19 Related Interventions in Khayelitsha

Fritz said he believes the numerous interventions in Khayelitsha played a “significant role in lowering the transmission of COVID-19” in the area.

These programmes included the deployment of 60 Chrysalis graduates – trained before deployment by Doctors Without Borders – to assist in COVID-19 compliance at malls and other places of gathering from June 2020.

The department also launched the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Safety Improvement Volunteers Project with COVID-19 relief measures, which included the handover of 15 starter kits to NHW structures. It promoted social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment.

Khayelitsha had less cases in the second peak

Fritz pointed out that during the first wave, Khayelitsha was among the hardest hit communities in Cape Town and the Western Cape, 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,” said Fritz.

He 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.”

Fritz said: “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 time, let us continue washing our hands, wearing our masks correctly and avoiding gatherings of any kind as we are still amid a pandemic.” –