Thank you, Khayelitsha, for playing your part in stopping the spread of Covid-19
“Thank you, Khayelitsha, for playing your part in stopping the spread of Covid-19”
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, wishes to acknowledge the herculean efforts of the people of Khayelitsha and the Department’s numerous stakeholders in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in their community.
Minister 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. I particularly wish to recognise the Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) as our main partner in working to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in Khayelitsha.”
Minister Fritz added, “I wish to thank the residents of Khayelitsha for their efforts in flattening the curve and stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially in the 2nd wave. I further wish to acknowledge the role played by Departmental and the City of Cape Town officials who worked very hard to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Khayelitsha, often sacrificing their personal time for the wellbeing of Khayelitsha as a whole.”
During the first wave, Khayelitsha was among the hardest hit communities in the City and Province, with infections reaching a high of 168 cases on 24 May, based on a 7-day moving average. However, during the second peak we saw a considerably lower number of cases per day recorded, with a high of 74 on 16 December.
Minister Fritz said, “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.”
Cases per day based on 7-day moving average
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Cape Government assembled the COVID-19 Hotspot plan whereby each Provincial Department was allocated a “Covid-19 hotspot”, identified by data which indicated that the virus was spreading rapidly in that community. Each Department was charged with managing the activities and interventions necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Department of Community Safety was charged with overseeing the Khayelitsha and Eastern hotspot.
Minister Fritz said, “As the Western Cape Government, we care deeply about the wellbeing of our citizens and it was crucial that we took every step in our power to stop the spread of Covid-19. There were numerous interventions in Khayelitsha, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, which were supported by stakeholders across the community. I believe that these interventions have played a significant role in lowering the transmission of COVID-19 and it would be remiss of me not to highlight them.”
One of the key partners in supporting the Department’s response was the KDF. Minister Fritz met with its executive leadership on 26 May 2020 to establish an integrated COVID-19 steering committee that met every Sunday evening with the Department of Community Safety and Health, other relevant stakeholders.
Minister Fritz said, “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.”
Among the interventions and programmes that were driven in Khayelitsha to lower the transmission of COVID-19 were:
- The deployment of 60 Chrysalis graduates to assist in COVID-19 compliance at malls and other places of gathering from June 2020. Prior to their deployment, they received training on COVID-19 from Doctors Without Borders (MSF);
- In July, the Department launched the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) Safety Improvement Volunteers Project with Covid-19 relief measures. This was marked by the handover of 15 starter kits to NHW structures. The deployment of the NHWs aimed to provide health advocacy through the promotion of social distancing and utilising PPE;
- Conducted research, together with the University of Stellenbosch on compliance with mask wearing to assist in our interventions; and
- Held a prayer service with the KDF to remember those whose lives were taken by COVID-19, to celebrate the extensive number of recoveries in Khayelitsha, create awareness and acknowledged stakeholders. The prayer service was a first for Khayelitsha as it was simultaneously aired live on Zibonele FM, Facebook live, Zoom and at five sites including SAPS Site B, the Methodist Church in Site B and the Site B training center.
Minister Fritz said, “In addition, the Department led a comprehensive behavioural change campaign which challenged stigmatization, encouraged the use of quarantine and isolation facilities and shared recovery stories. We utilised targeted social media to amplify the five golden rules of hygiene.”
Minister Fritz added, “We were guided in our messaging by the Department of Health and utilized our Chrysalis graduates, the KDF, NHWs, CPFs, FBOs, ward councilors, local celebrities, community social media pages and targeted social media focusing on gatherings at taverns, bars, tshisa nyama venues to ensure that messaging landed. It was crucial to this campaign that the message was communicated in people’s mother-tongue and great efforts were taken to translate all messaging.”
Among the media tools used were:
- A weekly radio show on Zibonele FM discussing COVID-19, stigmatization, recovery stories and safety tips;
- Taxi Interior Branding of 100 taxis operating on key transportation routes in Khayelitsha;
- Static and digital billboards reinforcing mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing;
- Targeted social media;
- Tailored WhatsApp messages and bulk SMS;
- Print publications in community newspapers including Vukani, Taxi Times and Dizindaba;
- Posters at schools; and
- Internal communications which included articles on COVID-19 interventions in the Provincial Better Together Magazine and the DOCS Newsletter.
Minister Fritz said, “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. Moving forward, the challenge will be in creating awareness and challenging stigmas related to the roll out of vaccines in Khayelitsha. I am confident that my Department, under the leadership of the Department of the Premier and Health, will be able to address this challenge.”
Minister Fritz concluded, “At the same time, 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, let us continue washing our hands, wearing our masks correctly and avoiding gatherings of any kind as we are still amid a pandemic.”