At least 500 000 people took advantage of the inter-province travel window period and returned to Gauteng by Thursday, as the country’s economy began opening, said premier David Makhura.
Throughout the seven-day interval that began on May 1, meant for the return of individuals who left the province before the lockdown kicked off on March 26, officials set up various roadblocks on provincial border roads to screen and also test those suspected for having Covid-19.
“More than half a million people moved into Gauteng. In those roadblocks, there was lots of screening done, including tests for Covid-19.
“It gave us a sense of how many cases of people who need to be under investigation, or whether are we picking up in terms of numbers,” said Makhura.
Addressing the media on Thursday, the premier said about 90 000 people were screened over the seven-day grace period.
On Thursday, the N12 between Gauteng and Mpumalanga was a hive of activity, as travellers took advantage of the last day of the grace period.
Members of the SAPS, SANDF and traffic police officials conducted a roadblock to check if those travelling between the two provinces were adhering to the level four regulations.
They were joined by health-care workers, who conducted screening and tested those suspected of being infected with Covid-19, in an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Sunday Independent spoke to seven people, who were stopped at the roadblock. Despite the delays, travellers welcomed the roadblock and some said they were happy to be screened so they could know their status and protect their families.
Among them was Lindiwe Khanye, who said she was on her way to visit her children, in Vosloorous.
“I haven’t seen my two children for a while due to the lockdown and I missed them. Since the announcement of the lockdown, I was at home in Mpumalanga and I did not go anywhere. I need to spend some time with them and I will decide when to return to Mpumalanga,” said the 36-year-old mother.
Magagula Ngqetisi said he was returning to his home in Mpumalanga, following his unsuccessful job search.
“I came to Gauteng, in 2011, to look for a job and I have not been lucky. Things will be more difficult under the current situation. I thought it was best to go back home and return when life is back to normal,” he said.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Abraham Mahlangu said they arrested 25 people from the roadblock, for failing to comply with the lockdown regulations.
“Others were in possession of dagga, while others were in possession of alcohol. We also arrested drivers who did not have permits,” said Mahlangu, adding that only about 5 000 people travelled to Mpumalanga between May 1 and May 7.
Gauteng Department of Community Safety spokesperson Ofentse Morwane said the roadblocks were important for the province to intensity interprovincial borders and ensure that anyone entering Gauteng complied with the lockdown regulations.
He said roadblocks were also a crime prevention measure and that four cases of crime were reported from the N12 roadblock.
“We are doing this to flatten the curve and ensure that we manage and contain this disease.
“We also stop and search for cars to prevent crime.
“There have been a number of people arrested since the beginning of the roadblocks. Some were found in possession of alcohol.
“Some were drunk, while others were undocumented foreign nationals,” he added.
Source: Sunday Independent