In a letter sent to Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure today, AfriForum requested that her department investigate the Department of Health’s Zithabeseni quarantine camp located near Groblersdal. This follows after the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled in AfriForum’s favour yesterday that the COVID-19 quarantine camp, where over 100 people were being held, be closed immediately. The residents were finally allowed to go home this morning.
In the letter, AfriForum also asked De Lille’s department to investigate how this camp was chosen and approved as one of government’s COVID-19 quarantine camps, to establish who benefited from the camp being selected, and whether there was any corruption with the awarding of the tender.
The Nel family, who was on vacation in Mozambique when the lockdown was announced, were among the people detained in the camp. The family returned to South Africa after five weeks of self-isolation in Mozambique. When they arrived at the Lebombo border post, members of the SANDF took them to the Zithabeseni quarantine camp near Groblersdal – about 400 km from the border post.
The Nels approached AfriForum for help, as the facility was in disrepair and posed a health risk for the people who were kept there under quarantine. Wild animals like baboons roamed freely despite the fact that there were small children on the premises. People also didn’t receive basic necessities such as adequate food, blankets, toilet paper, cleaning products and towels. The tap water was undrinkable and there wasn’t enough bottled water for everyone.
“While AfriForum is satisfied that the camp has been closed down and that people no longer have to stay in those appalling conditions, we can’t simply leave the matter there. We want to know how this facility succeeded in being approved as an official COVID-19 quarantine camp, when it clearly doesn’t comply with the World Health Organisation’s requirements. If people wrongly benefited from this camp being used, they should be brought to book,” says Monique Taute, Campaign Manager at AfriForum.