The Bo-Kaap is one of the most distinct neighbourhoods in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
The Bo-Kaap is one of the most distinct neighbourhoods in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Bo-Kaap lockdown: 'Citizens and visitors have rights like freedom of movement'

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Mar 19, 2020

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Cape Town - Bo-Kaap, known as a popular tourist destination, has been placed on lockdown by its residents urging tourists to stay out of the area to combat any further spread of Covid-19.

The Bo-Kaap Ratepayers Association chairperson Osman Shabodien said: “Bo-Kaap is a tourist destination and it is a precautionary measure to safeguard the area and the elderly, and vulnerable residents. And I think the challenge that we have is that we can’t discriminate which tourists come into the area, so the safest way is to say no more tourists.” He said the community has decided to be proactive in fighting the spread of the virus.

The association sent out a press release on Tuesday informing visitors of the decision to place the area under lockdown.

“Following the declaration of a national state of disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa with the total number of confirmed cases sitting at 62 (now over 100), Bo-Kaap will be on lockdown.

“The president has called on citizens to practice social distancing and good hygiene. As Bo-Kaap is a tourist destination we are more prone than other areas to get into contact with tourists from high-risk countries. We therefore place the tourism industry and government on notice that Bo-Kaap will be on lockdown and no tourist will be allowed into our area. This is for their health and for the health of the Bo-Kaap community.”

Shabodien said: “We have done broad consultation among the organisations and businesses in our area and of course the mosque.

“We can confirm that some businesses were sceptical at first about the decision, but we are putting residents first and wealth last.”

Bo-Kaap Ratepayers Association chairperson Osman Shabodien discusses the plan to lockdown Bo-Kaap with Fowzia Achmat, the general secretary of the organisation. Picture: Marvin Charles

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said: “The Covid-19 is a serious matter and one which the City of Cape Town is monitoring closely.

“Foremost in our minds is the safety of our citizens and visitors to our city. But, we are also mindful of how panicked responses could negatively impact the future of tens-of-thousands of Capetonian families dependent on our tourism economy. I would like to remind residents that other citizens and visitors do have rights regarding freedom of movement, and ask that those be respected.”

Vos said the City advised residents to avoid visiting local communities without the prior engagement with host and tourism professionals.

“This is to ensure that we protect community members as well as tourists that might be seen as the carriers of the coronavirus. We need to ensure that we practice responsible tourism.”

Premier Alan Winde said: “Bo-Kaap is open for tourism and people making decisions saying they don’t want tourists coming in the area need to make these responsibly and whether its in the best interests of the businesses.”


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Cape Argus

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