Working in government to defeat the coronavirus

The health of each and every resident is our priority so since the implementation of the national lockdown on Thursday, 26 March, our DA-led governments have been working day and night to collaborate with national government and support their communities. These are some of the ways our governments are intervening to help defeat the coronavirus.

Taking mobile screening to the people and preparing field hospitals

The DA-run Western Cape has kicked off door-to-door community screening, as part of the national mass community screening programme, and our provincial government is executing it very efficiently!

During screening, healthcare workers ask members of the community questions about their health. Depending on their answers, they may be referred to a health facility to be tested for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

To take the pressure off emergency centres, the DA-run Western Cape Government is also building 17 testing and triage centres which are dedicated places for patients who are symptomatic, or believe they need testing, to be triaged, screened and tested (the facilities at Tygerberg, Paarl and Mitchells Plain hospitals are up and running).

If needed, these field hospitals can easily be converted to create additional bed space. And to further ensure that the Western Cape’s facilities are geared to provide the appropriate care and to stop the spread, the Provincial Government is exploring the use of sites across the province where temporary care, quarantine or isolation facilities can be created, if needed.

Caring for vulnerable residents

Partnering with local NGOs, organisations, private donors, farmers and businesses, our governments are all doing everything possible to help vulnerable residents have a decent meal every day during the coronavirus pandemic – like the elderly, homeless and children that relied on school lunches before schools were closed.

The DA-run Western Cape has made a large investment in providing food to those who need it.

“We are working hard to ensure that no-one goes hungry during this difficult time.”  – Alan Winde, Premier of the DA-run Western Cape

Giving shelter and sanitation to those who don’t have a safe home to stay in is even more crucial during the coronavirus pandemic.

The DA-run City of Cape Town has created a central service offering temporary shelter for those who live on the street at the Strandfontein Sports Ground where tents, ablution facilities and access to sanitation will be available in line with lockdown regulations. As a new person registers, their health is screened to check whether they are at high risk.

Our smaller municipalities are also working 24/7 to support their communities and they are all assisting with initiatives such as soup kitchens or shelters.

In the Eastern Cape, DA-run Kouga Municipality has launched a COVID-19 fund to assist local families in need with food and other essential supplies during the lockdown period. They have already received substantial donations from the private sector to be distributed to vulnerable families.

In Limpopo, the DA-led Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality has prepared one of its community halls to serve as temporary accommodation for homeless people. In partnership with NGOs, the Municipality has been able to supply those living in the hall with toiletries, clothing and food.

The Municipality is also collecting donations in various towns for distribution to vulnerable families.

Every donation is appreciated. There are thousands of people who will be depending on this service during the COVID-19 crisis period. – Johann Crouse, Fire Station Commander in DA-led George Municipality

In the Western Cape, DA-run George Municipality is keeping more than 80 of its soup kitchens open, closing those soup kitchens which are run at home by people whose health may be at high risk, and training the others in all aspects of safely handing out soup within the required health, safety and social distancing parameters.

The Municipality’s drive-through donation centre accepts grocery donations from residents and businesses, sanitises them and then safely distributes them to the soup kitchens.

At shelters in DA-run Drakenstein Municipality, vulnerable people have basic health screening and are then taken care of with three meals a day, blankets and washing facilities. Plans are in motion to open a fourth shelter.

And to boost nutritional and immunity levels, Swellendam farmers have donated tons of fruit and the DA-run Swellendam Municipality is distributing it.

In Cape Town, a number of registered organisations are doing important work in their communities too. In response to requests for more support setting up additional soup kitchens, the DA-run City of Cape Town is increasing its support for soup kitchens to 21. Each organisation is being supplied with a three-plate gas burner, two large cooking pots of 100l and 80l, and a range of dry ingredients such as lentils, samp, and beans, among other items.

Are you, or a group of people you know, in need of food relief because of the COVID-19 lockdown?

If you live in the Western Cape, please use the following contact details or download, complete and email the application below. You can also call them between 07:00 and 19:00 from Monday to Sunday at 0800 220 250 (free call), 0860 142 142 (share call), or send a Please Call Me to 079 769 1207. Once completed, please email the application to service@westerncape.gov.za (email subject: DSD Food Parcel Application.)

Keeping essential services running smoothly

Essential services, like rubbish collection or access to clean water, are being kept running by our governments despite the lockdown.

Our municipalities are working extra hard to clean potential coronavirus hotspots, such as the transport hubs in DA-run Stellenbosch Municipality.

In DA-led Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape, taxi operators are further required to ensure their vehicles are constantly cleaned properly to help keep both their passengers and drivers safe.

And in DA-led Oudtshoorn Municipality, continuous cleaning is being extended from taxi ranks and SAPS cells to open spaces in the CBD, public parking areas, sidewalks in High Street, and municipal buildings, for example.

The DA-run City of Cape Town will spend an extra R40 million a month on personal protective equipment for staff members and cleansing to keep essential services running smoothly whilst protecting their staff.

Making water a priority

Our municipalities are all working hard to ensure that every resident has access to water so that they can keep their hands and homes sparkling clean to break the chain of coronavirus infection. Here are some examples:

💦 DA-run Swellendam Municipality suspended all credit control measures so that all pre-paid electricity and water meters can be open, and there are no restrictions on electricity or water.

💦 In DA-led Witzenberg Municipality all areas have water, and settlements that need better access, are getting more taps and will also get access to water tankers if the need arises.

💦 In DA-run Stellenbosch Municipality, vulnerable homes will get more free basic water in April, May and June. And from 6 April, 20 additional 5000-litre tanks will be delivered and installed at locations that need water most, and will be refilled daily.

💦 Extra standpipes and water have been brought into informal settlements, in addition to extra toilets, in DA-led Breede Valley.

💦 The DA-run City of Cape Town is driving ‘water on wheels’ as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts, and continues to provide basic and essential services to approximately 200 000 informal households.

Keeping communities safe and monitoring regulations

Law enforcers in DA-governed municipalities are working hard to ensure that businesses and residents are following the rules of the national lockdown, performing roadblocks and supporting the SAPS.

The 500 newly deployed law enforcement officers, appointed through the Western Cape Safety Plan, are also playing a commendable role in supporting the enforcement of the lockdown, supporting the police and the army as part of a joint effort.

Over the course of the lockdown period, we have seen a staggering decline in crime and, in particular, alleged murder admissions or suspected murders. – Albert Fritz, Minister of Community Safety in the DA-run Western Cape

The DA-run City of Cape Town is continuing with environmental and beach management during lockdown, which includes the protection of African Penguins and the nature reserves and biodiversity.

It has announced a grace period of one month post lockdown for motor vehicle licences and  registrations.

And the City is also carefully monitoring its MyCiti bus service because whilst public transport is essential, to transport residents who need to collect their social grants for example, it can also be a hotspot for the spread of the coronavirus. As such, the buses can only be half fill,  bus drivers have been issued with masks and gloves, and passengers can use hand sanitiser when they board and enter the station, among other precautions.

Working hard to provide rates relief

Whilst the DA is working with the national government to see many more relaxed payment terms implemented, to help businesses get through this difficult time and keep paying their staff, our governments are doing what they can to offer support.

Are you a Cape Town property owner in need of rates relief?

The DA-run City of Cape Town recently joined the likes of DA-run Stellenbosch, Overstrand and Mossel Bay in offering some form of payment relief to ratepayers hit by COVID-19:

  • Commercial property owners and individual households can apply to pay rates over an agreed period without interest charged or penalties.
  • Households now earning less than R6 000 a month can also get indigent relief.
  • Pensioners and property owners with a disability who have experienced a reduction in investment returns and household income can apply for more rates rebates.

If you live in Cape Town, send an SMS to 48043 or send an email to Covid19.Relief@capetown.gov.za to find out how to apply.

Do you run a B&B in Cape Town at this tough time?

In addition to the above support, the DA-led City of Cape Town is offering help to alleviate the financial burden on guest houses and bed and breakfasts hit hard by the coronavirus.

  • Consider offering essential accommodation to front-line health workers or people who need to be isolated.
  • To cut your rates bill, apply to change your property’s classification to a residential property and stop operating, or apply to be reclassified at reduced operations. Please complete the Rates Classification Form together with the Data Collection Form and submit it to Valuations.RCC@capetown.gov.za.

Stellenbosch payment holidays

In DA-run Stellenbosch, the council approved a three-month payment holiday for property rates (starting on the 1st of April 2020) to those applicants who can prove their income has been negatively affected by the crisis. Once the current situation has passed, the municipality and applicants will reach an agreement for the repayment of the debt on reasonable terms and without any interest levied.

Overstrand payment relief

In Overstrand, the municipal council resolved that businesses and individuals who are in financial distress as a result of the national lockdown and who are struggling to pay their March and/or April 2020 accounts, can enter into an extended payment agreement with the municipality.

Businesses can apply for their payments to be done over a six-month period and residential customers can apply to pay their accounts over a 12-month period.

Tenants of the Overstrand Municipality who cannot make use of the leased premises because of the lockdown – business premises, stalls and so forth – will also be exempted from the payment of rental for April and May 2020.

Please be safe and remain healthy!

Supporting small businesses

The City of Cape Town is working to decrease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses. Two task teams have been established by the City, an economic team and a tourism team.

These teams are currently focussing on sector support and information gathering to assess the scale of the impact of the pandemic to understand what kind of assistance will be most effective to which sectors.

The City of Cape Town has set up an information portal on the Invest Cape Town website to assist business and industry during the crisis. This dedicated portal features the latest news, press releases, research and downloadable resources for business sourced from strategic business partners as well as the provincial and national government.

The City has also formulated and released an essential guide for SMMEs during the lockdown which answers frequently asked questions about compliance with the regulations.

The strategy to support businesses in the Western Cape has three aspects: 

  1. Containment: gathering information from industries to understand their business needs and respond to their needs, and ensuring they’re taking the necessary steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  2. Adaptation: collating and sharing Frequently Asked Questions, guidelines and best practice on how businesses can adapt to the lockdown regulations and become resilient.
  3. Recovery: identifying actions that need to be taken to ensure businesses have the financial support they need now to get them through this crisis, and the actions needed to drive economic recovery once the pandemic has been contained, such as tourism and investment campaigns.

Any businesses which need assistance in the Western Cape can visit www.supportbusiness.co.za or email supportbusiness@wesgro.co.za

The DA-run Western Cape has also officially launched the new “JUMP for entrepreneurs” smartphone app – an innovative one-stop-shop for existing and potential business owners in the Western Cape to get all the resources they need to start, scale and grow their companies.

The app is available and free to download on the App Store and Google Play (search: “jump for entrepreneurs”).

Now more than ever, the provincial government wants to support businesses by giving them trusted information, access to business networks, tools and advice that will not only support them during the coronavirus pandemic, but continue to be an invaluable resource for their success into the future. 

Need help?

If you need advice during the coronavirus pandemic, please reach out. All lines are operational 24/7:

  • National hotline: 0800 029 999
  • WhatsApp “Hi” to 0600 123 456
  • DA-run Western Cape provincial hotline: 021 928 4102
  • Email: doh.dismed@westerncape.gov.za