Dear gated communities: stop making up your own rules during lockdown

Managing director of Only Realty, Grant Smee, says restriction laws do not exempt gated communities under the Disaster Management Act, during lockdown in South Africa.

The message comes after South Africa recorded its 11th death from Covid-19 coronavirus on Sunday, with 1,655 reported cases. Nearly 70,000 people have died globally, with more than 1.2 million reported cases.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, and police minister Beke Cele, have all pleaded with South Africans to stay at home during the 21-day lockdown period, which is scheduled to end on 16 April.

The SAPS clarified that the regulations under lockdown applied across the board, and called on estate and complex managers to enforce them.

“Following several enquiries about residents being able to walk or jog within their security estates/complexes. The Regulations also apply to people living within estates/complexes – meaning no walking, jogging or walking of pets within closed estates/complexes is allowed,” it said.

“All estate/complex managers must assist by ensuring that these regulations are enforced with immediate effect. The fundamental purpose of lockdown is to drastically reduce the movement of people in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus,” the SAPS said.

The SAPS said it will continue to act on all complaints received as no one has a special provision to act in a manner that is contrary to the Regulations governing the lockdown period.

“We urge all citizens of the republic to stay at home and only go out when it is absolutely necessary such as getting essential supplies, seeking medical assistance and collecting social grants.”

Smee said that he has watched various arguments around movement within Sectional Title Schemes and Homeowners Associations unfold with interest.

“Since the beginning of lockdown, we have seen various gated communities making their own rules.

“I’ve been asked for commentary around the various restrictions imposed under the Disaster Management Act, and while we would all love to walk our dogs and entertain our kids outdoors, the law applies to all of us,” he said.

“I am not an attorney, nor am I a self-professed expert in Sectional Title and Home Owners Association law – but I have logical thinking, intelligence, the ability to think beyond my own selfish wishes, and a relative understanding of the crisis we are currently experiencing,” Smee added.

The Community Scheme Ombud and SAPS have both indicated that the same regulations do apply for a scheme or HOA, he said.

“This means, that no one should leave the perimeter of their property, regardless of what your body corporate says.”

Smee said that many feel as though the lockdown has ‘infringed on their rights’.

“Consider the bigger picture here. While sectional title experts and attorneys may tell you that regulations don’t apply to gated communities, the reality is that regulations extend beyond your human right for freedom and the government has imposed strict restrictions around movement, everywhere.”

“These regulations come right to the edge of the section or erf of your property and government has the right to impose this under the current conditions. It applies equally and, as such, no matter where you live, it applies,” he said.

Smee cautioned sectional title schemes against the idea that their vote ‘counts’.

“I’ve heard of homeowners voting on lockdown restrictions: this is blatant negligence and undermines our government, society and our constitution.”

“The hard times are coming. Our president’s brave and proactive response to the pandemic was not optional, but it has given a false sense of security.

“The next four weeks are going to be some of the most important weeks this country has ever had,” Smee said.

Read: No jogging or walking dogs applies to security estates and complexes: SAPS

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Dear gated communities: stop making up your own rules during lockdown