Acting Municipal Manager
Mr. Bongani Mkhefa
Telephone: 044 501 3000
Manager: Communications and Customer Care
Telephone: 044 5013006
The Bitou Executive Mayor, Councilor Peter Lobese, convened a stakeholder meeting yesterday, 18 March 2020 . The meeting was focused on Coronavirus (COVID 2019), specifically zooming in on the C ommunity of Bitou. The meeting assessed the current state of affairs in the District with specific focus on Plettenberg Bay. Some of the stakeholders at this meeting were the Bitou Councilors, Senior Managers from Bitou, Business, Tourism Board, Department of Health, Public Transport Organizations, Church Ministers and Local Private Doctors.
The meeting was in response to;
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Coronavirus as an International Pandemic and this led to the President of the RSA, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, declaring it a National Disaster and pronouncing measures to prevent and reduce the
outbreak of the virus.
The outcomes of the engagement are;
- Bitou Municipality will be part of the Integrated, Coordinated Disaster Unit that will focus on preventing and reducing the outbreak. This Unit will consist of the Executive Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Portfolio Head Councilors, Municipal Manager and Chief Financial Officer, Senior Managers, Department of Health;
- This Unit will work with other stakeholders that include the Private Sector, Religious Leaders, Private Transport Sector, Tourism Sector, Sports Federations, Traditional Leaders, Tavern Owners, other government Department and Local Private Doctors;
- The President called for the intensification of health and hygiene efforts and the Bitou Municipality, as part of this Coordinating Unit, will;
- Implement and support health and hygiene awareness programs both within and outside the municipality. This, amongst others, can include staff and public awareness programs, distribution of posters, brochures and other material aimed at creating awareness; and
- Source and supply health and hygiene products to be used to prevent and reduce the outbreak;
- The Unit will put a stop to all gatherings of a 100 people or more and this will include the Bitou Easter Sports Activities and other events;
- The Coordinating Unit will engage religious bodies at a local level to ensure that church gatherings will be compliant with the President’s call, that gatherings with huge numbers must be stopped. Fortunately, most main stream churches like the Methodist Church have taken decisions that are in line with the call of the President;
- The Unit makes a call that traditional ceremonies not be implemented and if they are they are done in a manner that conforms to the hygiene standards required;
- Entertainment Centres, like taverns and pubs must be operated in a manner that conforms to hygiene standards and the numbers should be controlled to fit within the guidelines laid down by the President in his speech;
- The Unit will work with the Public Transport Sector to create awareness about the virus and put in place mechanisms to ensure that hygiene standards improve. It is a high-risk sector and is imperative to ensure that the efforts of prevention are implemented effectively;
- The municipality have suspended all biometric systems for its employees and encourage other organizations in the public and private sector follow suit;
- The Municipality Avail resources (financial and non-financial) that may be required for some of the programs that are key in preventing and reducing the outbreak. This will happen within the legislative and policy framework of local government and taking into consideration budget limitations;
- The presentation made by Doctor Potgieter confirmed that out of the 116 positive cases, Plettenberg Bay does not have any person that tested positively to the virus;
- However, this does not mean that we can relax as the picture could change. There may be need for quarantine facilities in future should there be a need for this;
- This unit makes a plea to the public sector to get involved and if there may be a hotel or building that is under-utilized, it be made available to assist. Other options is to explore possible assistance from Early Childhood Development Centres and or schools to make available its facilities;
- Should the need arise for public facilities like community halls to be made available for purposes related to Coronavirus, the municipality commits to avail such fs;
- Home schooling is seen as another tool that is proposed to reduce social distancing and therefore WIFI facilities may be a challenge in some communities and households. A plea was made to the unit to explore possible WIFI hotspots in the communities so that leaners can access internet and email facilities to do their work;
- The Unit will have to ensure that suppliers of hygiene products and equipment do not unnecessary overcharge residents because there is now a huge demand for these products.
It is essential that there is ongoing communication with the public regarding awareness and prevention campaigns. Available p oster, flyers and brochures must be distributed and posted at key public points like taxi ranks, shop, library and malls. Slots in local newspapers and on the local radio stations. We appeal to business owners, taxis and bus ses to always ensure that they provide hand sanitizers for patrons and passengers to wash their hands and keep to the required hygiene standards. T h e Bitou Municipality will continue to monitor the situation and residents will continuously be updated to matters relating to the virus.
Issued By: Andile Namntu on behalf of
Last published 23 March 2020
Councillor Peter Lobese
Executive Mayor of the Bitou Local Municipality