'We want water, not Covid-19 tests': Angry residents set dogs, pelt health workers with stones

Mpumalanga health MEC Sasekani Manzini with health workers screening and testing residents for coronavirus./MANDLA KHOZA
Mpumalanga health MEC Sasekani Manzini with health workers screening and testing residents for coronavirus./MANDLA KHOZA

Lack of water and sanitisers in Hhoyi village in Mpumalanga resulted in angry residents setting their dogs on health officials who had come to screen and test them for Covid-19 at the weekend.

They also pelted stones at the officials to highlight their plight. Six people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Nkomazi municipality.

Community members told Sowetan they were exposed to the deadly virus as they don't have sanitisers to curb the spread of the pandemic.

"We heard that they were coming and we decided to set dogs on them and also threw stones at them because they didn't come with sanitisers or water so that we can wash our hands regularly as required," said residents who didn't want to be named.

Resident Sibusiso Maseko, told Sowetan some of the residents told elders that they should refuse to be tested.

"I heard that there are other people with their conspiracy theories who told some community members, mostly the elderly, that they should refuse to be tested. They told them they should demand water because this community has scarcity of water. They also wanted indemnity and consent forms first before they could be tested. But for us the screening is something people should not worry about because they ask you questions and check your temperature."

Health MEC Sasekani Manzini said they didn't use force to screen or test people.

"We don't use force to screen or test people as the president has announced that there will be door-to-door screening and testing. We are calling for our people to comply and allow our officials to do their job. As we travel with the police and soldiers at some point, we expect our people to not make us force because we cannot allow people to endanger the lives of others," said Manzini.

Nkomazi municipality spokesperson Cyril Ripinga said the situation calmed down after Sunday's incident .

"The situation was calmed down and the health officials were allowed to do their job."

A health worker who didn't want to be named as he's not allowed to speak to the media said: "We heard before that there might be some resistance from some community members that is why we had to keep police closer. Those who pelted us with stones were young people who were apparently angry that they had not been able to access alcohol during the lockdown."

Chairperson of the Mpumalanga house of traditional leaders, who is also the traditional leader of the Hhoyi community, Sandile Hhoyi Ngomane, said he was taken aback by the incident.

"No, this can't be happening at this time, police should arrest people who defy the call by the country's president to be screened and tested for the coronavirus. As a leader in the community I'm personally going to follow the whole thing up and find out what's the cause of this."

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