Wednesday, 29 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalCourt bid to release group in state quarantine

Court bid to release group in state quarantine

AfriForum has filed an urgent application in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to secure the release of 107 people quarantined in a state facility. The case is to be heard tomorrow, says a report on the IoL site. AfriForum head of policy Ernst Roets said the application was urgent, noting that his organisation had arranged for a team of medical personnel to visit the people – who allegedly haven’t been tested for COVID-19 by the state – at Zithabiseni quarantine camp close to Groblersdal.

“Not only was the private medical team refused entrance to the premises, but the SAPS also called in backup to ensure the medical team would not be able to return. This came after the government informed residents they wouldn’t be tested by the state for COVID-19 at this stage and that they would be detained in the quarantine camp, regardless of the fact that they didn’t know whether they have the virus. They are also not allowed to self-isolate at home or have themselves tested at their own cost,” Roets said.

He said AfriForum was assisting residents who are being held in the camp “against their will”.

Among these residents are Dr Leon Nel, a veterinarian, his wife Melanie and their two children. They were brought to the camp after being in Mozambique for vacation recently where they were in self-isolation for five weeks. While being in self-isolation they were also in consultation with officials from the Department of International Relations & Co-operation in Mozambique.

Roets said Nel, had in a telephonic interview told him that that the facilities at the camp were not up to standard and that he feared his family could fall very ill while staying there.

City Press reports that seven individuals claim they are living in a place teeming with cockroaches and rotten cardboard. They also said that they were being served “substandard” food, and that false eyelashes were found in some meals. The Mpumalanga Health Department initially quarantined 115 people at the resort, which is owned by the Mpumalanga Parks & Tourism Agency.

Melanie Nel, who spoke on behalf of the group of complainants, said they were going to court, but did not clarify what application they wanted to bring forward. “We’re in the High Court next week Wednesday,” she said. “The bottom line is that we’re all healthy, but are concerned that we and our kids will get sick in this place. All we want is to get tested and if we’re negative, we want to go home. We’re willing to pay for our own tests, but we’re not allowed to.”

Mpumalanga Parks & Tourism Agency spokesperson Kholofelo Nkambule said the resort was a suitable facility and, even though it had dilapidated buildings, the ones selected for quarantine were in a satisfactory and habitable condition. She said that some of the complaints will be followed up. “Even though they’re unlikely, the allegations of people laughing at diabetic patients and false eyelashes found in the food are taken seriously and will be investigated as a matter of urgency.”

Nel also reportedly supplied AfriForum with photos and video footage to illustrate the state of the camp. “AfriForum consequently directed an urgent letter to the Ministers (of Health and of International Relations & Co-operation) about the appalling circumstances under which the residents of this camp are forced to live.”

AfriForum's legal representative Willie Spies reportedly told News24 its application would seek two outcomes: Firstly, that those remaining at the camp be relocated to a facility with better living conditions; and that those who wish to be tested by a private healthcare facility, at their own cost, be allowed to do so.

Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille has, meanwhile, called for an urgent investigation after 180 South Africans, who had been repatriated from the US, were sent to the incorrect quarantine venues, which did not have food, lights or water, says a report on the IoL site. De Lille said the group was among 245 passengers who had arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday.

She said as the passengers were being transported to two hotels, which were authorised and prepared for quarantine, some health officials diverted 180 people in the group to Eskom, Transnet and Telkom facilities, which she said were not authorised by the Department of Public Works.

“People were dumped there, and were just left there, and the Eskom place that they were put in does not have electricity. Some people were without food for 15 hours,” she said.

De Lille suspects a “large fraudulent scheme” is operating with regard to quarantine facilities. According to a report in Die Burger, De Lille and the Gauteng Health Department are at loggerheads about the events.

Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the Transnet and Eskom facilities have been in use for a while. “If De Lille does not know who approved it, she should go ask her peers.”

De Lille said the latest incident had convinced her to request a large-scaled investigation into fraud and corruption. “I started to get a suspicious about a week ago when an official (from my department) tried to move eight people, who have already been in quarantine for three days, to another facility as it ‘is unfair to give all the business to one hotel’,” De Lille said.

Reports of officials allegedly seeking bribes from those in quarantine to be moved to better facilities have since emerged, says Die Burger.

[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/afriforum-files-urgent-court-bid-to-release-107-people-held-in-quarantine-at-a-state-facility-47534607"]Full report on the IoL site[/link]

[link url="https://city-press.news24.com/News/quarantined-south-africans-head-to-court-to-demand-their-release-20200501"]Full City Press report[/link]

[link url="https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/court-battle-looming-to-test-and-release-south-africans-in-appalling-mpumalanga-quarantine-facility-20200504"]Full News24 report[/link]

[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/de-lille-opens-investigation-after-180-returning-citizens-taken-to-wrong-quarantine-facility-47586396"]Full report on the IoL site[/link]

[link url="https://www.netwerk24.com/Nuus/Gesondheid/de-lille-gelas-ondersoek-oor-or-kwarantyn-fiasko-20200505"]Full report in Die Burger[/link]

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