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AfriForum demands answers on treatment of people in Emperors Palace quarantine facility

AfriForum directed a letter today to Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Enterprises and Infrastructure, in which the civil rights organisation demands answers to information received from repatriated people who are now detained under quarantine at the Emperors Palace Peermont Metcourt and Mondior Hotel. AfriForum also considers legal action in this regard if the Minister does not provide satisfactory answers. According to detainees, the facility does not meet the Department of Health’s guidelines for quarantine facilities. They are also detained against their will and officials violate their fundamental rights.

AfriForum also sent the Minister a report on the worst of these violations and offences, which include:

  1. The facility is not adequately cleaned and disinfected, and the rooms are unhygienic.
  2. The detainees are not clinically assessed to screen for symptoms of COVID-19.
  3. The dietary requirements of the detainees are not met.
  4. Testing takes place in an inconsistent manner and people are not given their test results timeously.
  5. The facility releases people in an inconsistent manner. In some of the groups, who arrived on the same day, some people were allowed to leave the facility while others were not.
  6. Families are split up and held in different rooms.
  7. Elderly, sick, and pregnant detainees do not receive the necessary medical treatment.
  8. People are restricted to their rooms like prisoners. They are not allowed to leave these rooms, except for a few minutes a day.
  9. Facility officials treat the detainees with disrespect and in a manner that violates their basic human rights.

AfriForum gave the Minister a week to investigate the accusations and reply. “If we do not receive a satisfactory reply on our requests, we will consider legal action to help detainees. AfriForum will not allow the government to hold people hostage and to violate their most basic human rights,” says Monique Taute, Head of Campaigns at AfriForum.

AfriForum also brought a court application against the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs to have the regulations declared unconstitutional, illegal and irrational. These regulations determine that that state may force people who test positive for COVID-19 into quarantine in state facilities – despite them being able to self-isolate.

“In light of AfriForum’s recent court victory to close the doors of the Zithabiseni quarantine camp, we are confident that the detainment of people at the Emperors Palace facility is irrational and illegal. We cannot allow this sort of state action to create a precedent for the treatment of people,” Taute concludes.

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