A female CHDM Environmental Health Practitioner was assaulted while on duty by family members of the bereaved who were not in compliance with COVID -19 regulations during a funeral in Cacadu today. The incident took place KuNdonga, EQaqeni in Cacadu. The Department of Health (DOH) notified the official about the deceased who succumbed to COVID-19 and tests of family members were subsequently conducted following receipt of the deceased results.
On Monday, 06 July 2020, the DOH together with the official visited the family to present the results of all those who were tested and further conducted awareness on COVID-19 regulations and related policies as all close contacts tested positive.
It is reported that the widow of the deceased contacted the CDHM official after the arrival of the corpse this morning requesting guidance during the funeral service which was conducted in the family’s precincts. Working with the funeral parlour, the official identified non-compliance issues which posed a serious risk to those who were present and their prospective contacts. These, related to complete disregard of social distancing by church members, attendees which exceeded the regulated number, poorly constructed grave with inadmissible material and demands by the family to see the sealed body.
The alleged assault started when furious family members disregarded COVID-19 set regulations in conducting funerals as the official persistently advised against such in ensuring that health and safety precautionary measures were adhered to.
The distraught official had to abandon the site following insults and a chase by an angry mob where her phone was also allegedly confiscated. We extend our immense gratitude to the Funeral Parlour officials who tried to calm the situation, recovered the phone and rescued the official who later managed to escape for her safety. Police were dispatched to the area and a case of assault will be opened with the Cacadu police station.
Incidents like these are disturbing and unfortunate particularly at a time where lives are lost due to this deadly virus. As communities continue to navigate and adjust during this ongoing pandemic, it is important for all of us to understand that we all have a part to play in limiting the spread of coronavirus.
As the district, we condemn this unbecoming conduct and plead with families to conform to Covid-19 Regulations for our own good during these trying times. We are also appealing to our community members to refrain stigmatizing those who have tested positive with Corona.
Let us therefore work together to stay safe by continue wearing our masks, washing our hands with sanitizers or soap and water and keep a social distance. We must also try by all means to acclimatize with the situation as we are at a point where the number of COVID-19 infections keeps growing on a daily basis and so is the number of deaths. Our focus must be on fighting the spread of Corona Virus and we must collectively make our contribution in flattening the curve. Our EHPs have been on the ground across the district to create awareness and monitor funerals, and they are doing so to save lives.
The official has since been referred to our Wellness Unit for trauma and counselling. It is unfortunate that those in the line of duty are subjected to such while in an effort to protect the community.
Cllr Wongama Gela