• Legal experts believe the use of communal property is illegal under the national Covid-19 lockdown rules. 
  • These areas can only be accessed if you are on your way to seek medical care, or to do grocery shopping, among other exceptions. 
  • One law expert said is aware of several cases where people were fined R1,500 for contravening those rules. 
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It is illegal for South Africans to use communal property in residential estates or complexes, such as parking lots and gardens, during the national lockdown, legal experts say. 

One expert said he is aware of several cases where people have been fined R1,500 for contravening these rules. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered an unprecedented 21-day lockdown from 26 March until 16 April to slow down the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa. But the rules that confine South Africans to their places of residence led to confusion.

Schindlers Attorneys Lisa Schmidt and Lauren Squier said that while common areas such as parking lots and gardens may be considered a part of someone’s property, the disaster regulations were clear that people remain in their places of residence. 

Individuals may only enter these spaces if they are on the way to seek medical care, to buy essentials groceries, collecting social grants, or performing an essential service explicitly allowed in the lockdown rules, they say.

A KwaZulu-Natal sectional title and community scheme law expert, who wished to remain anonymous as he was advising the properties involved, said he’s aware of a number of cases where people have been fined R1,500 for using communal areas. 

National police spokesperson Vish Naidoo previously called on estate and complex managers to assist the state by forcing people to stay inside their properties. 

Lawtons Africa director Hopewell Sathekge however, said that managing agents and trustees do not have any legal authority to enforce the regulations and to fine occupants. 

That remains the responsibility of the police service, though managers and residents can play their part to encourage enforcement, Sathekge said.