Bhisho searching for mourners who attended funeral with Covid-19 positive man

Judy Ngoloyi, spokesperson for provincial health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, said the East London man tested positive for the virus on his return to the city.
Judy Ngoloyi, spokesperson for  provincial health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, said the East London man tested positive for the virus on his return to the city.
Image: Jozef Polc/123rf.com

The Eastern Cape government is desperately trying to track down more than 100 people who attended a funeral in Majola, Port St Johns after a mourner who travelled from East London tested positive for Covid-19.

Reliable sources have confirmed that those who attended the funeral during the last weekend of March had flouted lockdown regulations, which state that no more than 50 people may attend a funeral.

Judy Ngoloyi, spokesperson for  provincial health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, said the East London man tested positive for the virus on his return to the city. She did not say when he was tested or received his results.

 Earlier this week, there were seven confirmed coronavirus cases in Buffalo City.

Ngoloyi said the health department was investigating.

“Yes, we are [aware] of this case. The department is doing everything in its power to trace contacts,” Ngoloyi said.

DispatchLIVE requested a breakdown of the updated number of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 and where they were in the province, but she had not provided this information by print deadline.

But a contact tracing report from the Eastern Cape health department dated April 5 shows that the provincial government had been monitoring 49 people it regarded as “close contacts” in the OR Tambo region, where Port St Johns is located.

Breaking down SA's coronavirus statistics.

The April 5 report said all 49 contacts they had established in OR Tambo at the time showed no symptoms.

Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, referred queries to health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana, who had not responded at the time of writing.

People who attend funerals are urged to immediately call the 24-hour toll-free number, 08000-32364 if they present with flu-like symptoms.

The government’s regulations in respect of funerals and prayer meetings are not without merit.

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and the party’s chief whip in the National Assembly, Steve Swart, both of whom have tested positive for the virus, attended a prayer breakfast at the Divine Restoration Ministries in Ribblesdale, Bloemfontein, on March 10 and 11.

The prayer breakfast took place before the 50-people limit was imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 15.

Several other people who were part of the church gathering also tested positive for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has confirmed it is investigating  after a police officer in Komani allegedly assaulted a couple who went to buy groceries on Saturday.

Ipid acting national spokesperson Sontaga Seisa said no arrest had been made.

The couple, Simamkele Booi and his wife Ntombomzi Mvandaba, were on their way to the Checkers store at Nonesi Mall when they were stopped by a police officer at Griffith Street.

Mvandaba told the Dispatch the officer asked where they were going and then took them to the police station, where they were allegedly assaulted and locked up in police holding cells. This apparently happened in front of other officers who “were folding their arms”.

Booi was later accused of being in possession of drugs and spent two nights in the cell before appearing at the Komani Magistrate’s Court on Monday. He was released. “He ‘cooked’ the charges against me, saying I was carrying drugs,” said Booi.

Mvandaba was given a fine of R5,000 for “contravening of national disaster management act of 2002” for failure to be confined at their residence during lockdown.

DispatchLIVE has seen the fine receipt signed by the accused police officer on Saturday. She is expected to appear in Court on the May 7.

In a separate matter, 50 officers stationed at the Butterworth police cluster offices, fearing they could have caught the virus from a colleague whose son has it, remained at work on Wednesday.

DispatchLIVE reported on Wednesday the officers were demanding police management test and place them  in quarantine, as had been the case with their colleague.

But they said later it was “business as usual” and  their managers had still not addressed them on the matter.


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