BCM councillors fume over possible virus exposure

A King William’s Town municipal office was not closed after an employee had tested positive for Covid-19
A King William’s Town municipal office was not closed after an employee had tested positive for Covid-19

Irate Buffalo City Metro (BCM) councillors on Friday gave mayor Xola Pakati seven days to provide a report on why a King William’s Town municipal office was not closed after an employee had tested positive for Covid-19.

The councillors felt their lives were placed at risk when they attended a virtual council meeting on Wednesday at the premises.

The meeting was later postponed to Friday by council speaker Alfred Mtsi after concerns were raised about decontaminating the building.

In a virtual meeting on Friday, councillors gave Pakati seven days to investigate why the Wednesday meeting was allowed to sit.

ANC councillor Crosby Kolela said: “The meeting on Wednesday was disrupted because of a worker who tested positive.

“We were never informed as councillors and it was wrong that we were left on our own.

“This is recklessness and has put our lives at risk.

“Covid-19 is no joke and we should have an investigation on this matter.”

BCM chief whip Mawethu Marata called for city manager Andile Sihlahla to be arrested.

“The King William’s Town fracas is very serious. Councillors were not tested.

“A letter was written to the mayor’s office indicating that what happened was gross misconduct.

“Whoever put councillors’ lives in danger must be investigated and the city manager should tell us why he shouldn’t be arrested for putting councillors' lives in danger.

“We need a report in seven days on why those councillors were subjected to that.”

The municipal headquarters, the Trust Centre building in the East London CBD, was immediately closed last  Monday for deep cleansing after an employee tested positive for Covid-19.

During the Friday virtual meeting, councillor Vuyani Peter said: “Let us not just brush through this — it’s people’s lives we are talking about.”

“The Trust Centre was closed immediately after one person tested positive, why not that King building? We seem to be taking people’s lives for granted.

“Your office should have made sure those councillors [who attended the Wednesday meeting in King] are quarantined. “There were also other employees from other departments in the building,” Peter said.

DA caucus leader Terrence Fritz said: “We couldn’t accept that the place was opened for councillors to go in while the municipal manager knew beforehand that there was a person who was infected.

“There are many people who might have been in contact with the BCM employee while waiting for their results, because they only closed it when the person got their results.”

Addressing the Friday virtual council meeting, Mtsi said the matter would be investigated and tabled at the next council meeting.

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