Msunduzi News (English)
Msunduzi leads the battle against Covid-19
THE Municipality is in the coalface of service delivery because it is part of local government. The first confirmed Covid-19 case that set off what is now known as South African outbreak was here in Msunduzi.
The spread of this disease led to President Cyril Ramaphosa placing the country under the national lockdown on March 26.
Msunduzi Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla has completed 250 days since his appointment as the first citizen of the Capital of KwaZulu-Natal.
He was appointed into this position after Msunduzi was placed under the care of the Ministerial Representative.
What makes Msunduzi unique from the other local municipalities under uMgungundlovu is that 60% of the people in this district reside within Msunduzi’s borders which means they are impacted if anything happens in this Municipality.
Talking to Msunduzi News recently, Mayor Thebolla said: “For all of us this is the first time we’ve ever had a lockdown but it is important that we ensure that we continue with the fulfillment of the municipality’s responsibilities, which is changing the lives of the people for the better and also be a Government that is closer to the people.”
He said after they got clarity on how the lockdown would work, they started with the plan on what the Municipality should do as part of its response.
“From the first day of the lockdown we didn’t have any problems in the CBD like people having people who were loitering about and not adhering to the regulations. But the problems started the moment people had to collect their social grants, that’s when we had people all over town.
“That’s why on the second payout the following month we called on our school patrol officers and deployed them all over town to ensure that people and businesses did not flout any of the lockdown regulations.”
Mayor Thebolla said because the Municipality wanted to protect the residents of Msunduzi they decided to make it their duty to monitor the social grants’ payout points in order to ensure that people adhere to social distancing.
“The teams that we have asked to do this are on foot patrol and they walk all over town. If they find you walking around without a mask they ask you to get one and if they see you sitting down they also ask you what you are doing there because the country is still on lockdown so you must go home once you are done with whatever business brought you to town,” said the Mayor.
He said residents must remember that level 3 of the lockdown does not mean that everything is back to normal and they have the freedom to do as they please but it only means that some of the restrictions have been eased.
When the lockdown was implemented in March, Msunduzi moved with speed to relocate those who had been living on the streets to the City homeless shelters which were established in response to President
Ramaphosa’s call to municipalities.
“The aim of taking the homeless from the streets was to protect them for Covid-19. We have 250 males and 50 females. They don’t just live there but they are fed three times a day, given clothes to wear and are receiving health care,” said Thebolla.
He said the Municipality is working with non-profit organisations, the KZN Department of Social Development and the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) to collect donations from the public to run the shelters.
“We decided to work with these departments and organisations because most of the people living on the streets are battling drug addiction so they need specialised care to deal with that in order to start the process of rebuilding their lives.”
He said the teams at the shelters have started finding out what kind of careers they would like to pursue so that they can be assisted with skills development programmes.
Mayor Thebolla said the challenge faced by the Municipal is collecting donations for the shelter because the municipality does not have the capacity so they asked the KZNCC to assist with that.
“The Municipality currently does not have a good reputation because we are under administration as a result people don’t want to give the City their money even if it’s in a form of donations for a good cause like this one. That’s why we are working with other stakeholders that we believe the public will trust with their donations.”
Meanwhile, the City has appointed a service provider to sanitise all the municipal facilities on a regular basis.
“We want to ensure that our facilities are safe for the public use. Our offices are also sanitised because we also want to protect all the municipal employees and their families.”
He said the sanitisation and deep cleansing process started at the taxi ranks during the time when the lockdown restrictions only allowed them to operate during peak hours. “Last week we appointed a company to deep clean all the taxi ranks so that our people can be protected,” said the Mayor.
On the Pietermaritzburg Fresh Produce Market employee who tested positive for Covid-19, Mayor Thebolla said: “We are working with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to ensure that the market is safe for the customers and the staff.”
He said the Department of Health intervened and the affected staff member and her family were placed on isolation but fortunately no one was infected amongst the staff.
He concluded by saying that since the lockdown started the City employees have only been able to collect refuse every second week. “The lockdown has also given us an opportunity to properly clean the CBD because we were able to see the problematic areas around town. What we found is that hair and cloth tend to block the drains. We have to tighten enforcement in the areas that lead to the City looking untidy otherwise those could give us serious problems. We have restored the dignity of our City and now we have to keep it that way,” said Mayor Thebolla.