Gauteng Premier David Makhura has begged residents of the province not to flee to their rural homes because of the national lockdown meant to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
After the announcement of a national lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, some Gauteng residents have reacted by fleeing to their home provinces.
According to Makhura, 44% of the province’s population was not born there, and a large number of them leave for their homes during holidays.
Many of them have been seen driving to Limpopo, even though that province’s health MEC, Phophi Ramathuba, has made a plea for people who are originally from there not to return during or just before the lockdown.
Addressing a post provincial cabinet media briefing, Makhura said those residents who left Gauteng ran the risk of spreading the virus.
Of the more than 700 cases of Covid-19 in SA, the majority were diagnosed in Gauteng is the province with the highest number of cases.
“I have been made aware that there are a significant number of people who are leaving the province before the lockdown takes effect, and these are the people I am talking to. We shouldn’t do that. Essentially, it started yesterday … what people are doing by leaving earlier, I think we should understand the impact of this on ourselves,” said Makhura.
He said he understood that people might feel it would be better for them to be in their hometown or home village.
“We are saying to them it helps the country; the lockdown is something to help the country. It is to help our nation to contain the [coronavirus] pandemic,” said Makhura.
He said people might say it was better to be close to home, but his province had better infrastructure to deal with the pandemic.
“Those provinces don’t have the infrastructure. We have infrastructure here. In case in the next 21 days you fall sick, I don’t even want to talk about testing positive, but you fall sick, there is adequate infrastructure here,” said Makhura.
“Even for those who are in the informal settlements but they are in this 18,000 square kilometre called Gauteng, if someone falls ill, they are in Diepsloot or they are anywhere else, we will ensure that they will get the best treatment here.”
He said fear, packing up and leaving to be closer to where you were born was an irrational response to the virus.
Makhura also warned that those who leave the province in fear of the lockdown, which is due to take effect at midnight on Thursday, may not be allowed to come back.
TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)