Mob burns week-old Covid-19 treatment facility in Khayelitsha

The Desmond Tutu Community Hall in Khayelitsha was gutted on Saturday during a protest.
Image: Vincent Lal

Cape Town’s newly built facility meant for Covid-19 patients in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, was torched, allegedly by people protesting over land on Saturday.

The estimated loss is R1m, according to mayor Dan Plato. The facility had been open for only a week.

Plato said on Monday the facility was meant to serve vulnerable Covid-19 patients needing treatment, testing and isolation.

“I am truly appalled by this criminal behaviour. The city will do everything to ensure that those responsible are brought to book. I am calling on the police to arrest those responsible so that they face the full might of the law,” he said. “Their callous actions have the potential to put entire communities at risk.”

In another incident, protesters torched and looted the Desmond Tutu Community Hall while protesting on Saturday morning. It is still unclear whether it was the same group who burnt the health facility, but sources we spoke to believe the group is among those occupying land in Makhaza where law enforcement officials were demolishing structures earlier in the week.

Nosipho Qaku, a security guard at the hall, said law-enforcement officials fired rubber bullets at the protesters to disperse them. “The protesters retreated and regrouped before returning to loot the hall. My cellphone was also stolen,” she said.

Ward councillor Danile Khatshwa said: “Because of Covid-19, I and other leaders hold Skype meetings. I will not be able to participate in such meetings because I get the internet at the hall. Residents also won’t be able to report damaged storm water drains and other problems at the hall.”

Khatshwa’s house and car were also burnt by protesters about 8pm on Saturday. His family members have been moved from the community for their safety.

“Thugs are now involved in the protests. They steal and damage property. My family was shocked and scared because I was not even around when the protesters tried to attack them,” said Khatshwa.

Police are yet to respond to questions on whether any arrests have been made since Saturday.

  • This article was first published on GroundUp

BY VINCENT LALI

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