Pet Dam locked down as residents disregard COVID-19 regulations

GK CRONJE

13 October 2020

One resident stated that “the SAPS can go to hell”, whilst another stated that the decision to close the Pet Dam is “part of the white agenda” and that “residents are being oppressed”.

After numerous complaints falling on deaf ears regarding the Pet Dam, and residents who swarm to the site daily in order to get the party started, it has come to pass that drastic measures have been forcibly implemented by Msukaligwa Local Municipality (MLM). In light of the blatant disregard from residents who use the dam as a party site, and who pay no heed to social distancing and COVID-19 regulations, MLM has issued a closure of the Pet Dam on Friday, with immediate effect. MLM has stated that an increase in COVID-19 cases is the reason for the closure, and that the Local Command Council (LCC) has made the decision. While the decision has been met with favorable response, some residents have vented their frustration on social media regarding the decision. Upon MLM stating that the SAPS will be requested to assist in clearing crowds that do not adhere to COVID-19 regulations, one resident stated that “the SAPS can go to hell”, whilst another stated that the decision to close the Pet Dam is “part of the white agenda” and that “residents are being oppressed”. However, even though the lockdown restrictions have eased to National Alert Level 1, the law set forth by government is clear in this respect.

The regulations, as gazetted, states that all citizens must, when in a public place, wear a face mask. Every person, when attending a gathering, and in order to limit exposure to COVID-19 must wear a face mask, adhere to all health protocols, maintain a distance of least one and a half meters from each other; and adhere to any other health protocols and social distancing measures. An enforcement officer must, where a gathering in contravention of the regulations takes place, order the persons at the gathering to disperse immediately, and if the persons refuse to disperse, take appropriate action, which may, subject to the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977), include the arrest and detention of any person at the gathering.

In essence, none of the regulations are followed at the Pet Dam and surrounding areas, including the Sport Inn, where residents opted to occupy since the closure of the Pet Dam. The Sport Inn parking lot has been left in shambles, littered with empty liquor bottles and other manner of refuse. Parts of the Pet Dam’s fence have also allegedly been damaged, yet it is still to be confirmed. Speaking to Mr. Zwane, MLM spokesman, he stated that the Pet Dam’s gates will be locked to prevent access, and that security detail will patrol the area of the Pet Dam to ensure compliance from defiant residents. Residents are urged to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, which have been set in place to contain the spread of the virus by limiting social interaction and gatherings.

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