[WSMDiscuss] (Fwd) South Africa's recent Coronavirus deprivations and depravities: food rebellions and growing hunger; incidents of police brutality; gender-based violence spike; unemployment relief missing; price-gouging; water vandalism-for-profit; xenophobia; ghetto 'decanting' = evictions; CT shack demolitions (and reversal); healthworker protective gear shortage; rural transport shortage; alcoholism & booze syndicates; 400 schools vandalised; communication breakdowns; physical-distancing difficulties, etc etc
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Apr 18 09:58:01 CEST 2020
(As of now
<https://twitter.com/DrZweliMkhize/status/1251220904752930818>, in a
country of nearly 60 million, fewer than 3000 have officially tested
Covid-19 positive these past five weeks. Nearly 1000 have recovered. At
least 50 are dead.
Reports of social degradation and state stinginess over the last
few days, below, are sobering. Thank goodness the SA infection rate is
surprisingly low, by all accounts, notwithstanding initial testing
fiascos. The public health interventions appear to be effective in
"flattening the curve"
This is absolutely vital given SA's healthcare apartheid, hospital and
clinic crises, and systemic unpreparedness.
But if this is indeed the case, in turn the flattened infection
curve also extends the hunger - indeed starvation - now rapidly
worsening due to persistent state neoliberalism and distributional
political biases. And apparently, an atomised, leaderless social
rebellion is brewing against police and army brutality in some of the
hotspots. One aspect is what's termed school 'vandalism' - but
tellingly, /“The most common target areas in the schools are the
administration blocks for Information Communication Technology equipment
and the nutrition centres for the food items,” said Basic Education
Minister Angie Motshekga. /
The well-regarded health scientist leading the battle is Slim
Abdool Karim. According to Ferial Haffajee
/Abdool Karim is a straight-shooter who does not play politics. He
wasn’t in favour under the Mbeki administration and on Monday (13
April) he didn’t beat around the bush. He said it was unlikely that
South Africa can avoid the exponential curve of Covid-19, but what
South African can do is plan for it... He said the country has some
things going for it, like an army of 28,000 community health
workers, a new and faster diagnostic testing regime and new
treatments. The country also needed time to prep hospitals and buy
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear like masks and gowns
essential to keep healthworkers safe. South Africa’s infection rate
is now growing at 67 per week, said Abdool Karim, and if it slows,
the lockdown can be eased. But if infections climb to 90 or more a
day, as mass testing gains ground, then the tight restrictions will
remain. The two doctors told South Africans to plan for stages 5 to
9 of the fight against Covid-19, which could last from this week to
September. It includes finding the infection hotspots, planning for
the peak, thinking through and planning for bereavement and mass
deaths and then planning vigilance strategies to last until a
vaccine may be found. Most clinicians agree this could take between
18 months and two years. Steps might include introducing an
age-related lockdown for the most vulnerable people. None of these
stages are without problems: community health workers feel underpaid
and often unprotected in the face of a terrifying virus and test
results are still taking too long to process./
Next email: encouraging signs of coherent resistance politics - tackling
Covid-19 with mutual aid, state malevolence with watchdogging, and
neoliberalism with rising demands, and more. After that, once I gather
enough solid information, we will see the SA capitalist class's
schizophrenic responses to Covid-19, mixing unprecedented charity and
foresight, with classical exploitation: in the most degenerate sectors,
such as mining, a cowboy-style hankering to get production prematurely
CORONAVIRUS & FOOD SUPPLY
The biggest lockdown threat: Hunger, hunger, everywhere
By Rebecca Davis• 17 April 2020
Residents in Mitchells Plain clash with police over food parcels.
Residents are furious with the government for not fulfilling its promise
of delivering food parcels. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco
Protests and looting have broken out all over South Africa in recent
days in response to one issue: hunger. It is now clear that hunger
will pose the greatest threat to South African well-being and
security during the lockdown – and the difficulties involved with
getting food to millions of South Africans in need are tremendous.
The hunger of South Africans during the extended lockdown period is
spilling over on to the streets. This week alone, grocery stores have
been looted and protests have broken out on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha,
Alexandra and Chatsworth – to name just a few areas.
Cape Flats ward councillor Bongani Ngcani wasquoted by /News24/
as saying: “A man told me: ‘I would rather die of Covid-19 than of
It is clear that all three tiers of government are well aware of the
threat posed by hunger. But the logistical challenges of providing food
to potentially millions of South Africans under lockdown are monumental,
and may not be able to be resolved through existing systems.
*Problem #1: A lack of existing capacity for distributing food*
When it comes to social support for the poor in South Africa, the
responsibility technically falls to the South African Social Security
Agency (Sassa) under the department of social development.
But Sassa’s offices have been closed since the beginning of the national
lockdown, and the department of social development does not seem to have
the capacity to deal with current food security needs.
The department did not respond to /Daily Maverick/’s request for comment.
“The department of social development has an existing provincially based
food distribution programme, but their capacity is [feeding] under
300,000 nationally,” Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS)
researcher Marius Oosthuizen told /Daily Maverick/.
Oosthuizen is one of a number of local academics who have been working
on the problem of food security and distribution during the lockdown.
“Just in Gauteng, by the department of social development’s admission,
the need in April will go up to 300,000 needing support,” says Oosthuizen.
By May, that number may rise to 3.2 million.
“It’s a question of scale: how do you get to that quantum of support?”
The Gauteng department of social development told /Daily Maverick/ that
80,000 families in the province have received food parcels so far. These
include sugar, mielie meal, tinned goods, fish oil, salt, rice, samp and
some toiletry items.
*Problem #2: A lack of data on who needs support*
There is no up-to-date national database pointing authorities to who is
most in need of support at this time.
Sassa has a list of existing social grant beneficiaries and the
Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) now has records of who has applied for
unemployment support at this time, but it is recognised that those most
in need are people who do /not/ currently qualify for either a Sassa
grant or UIF support.
Asks Oosthuizen: “Who are those X million people and how do we reach them?”
*Problem #3: The bureaucracy involved in verifying food claims*
As things stand, the bureaucratic process involved in verifying the
claims of those who need food is cumbersome, time-consuming and varies
from province to province. It is not as simple as people in need turning
up at a food bank to claim parcels.
Gauteng department of social development spokesperson Thabiso Hlongwane
explained the process in Gauteng to /Daily Maverick/ as follows:
“An individual qualifies [for food support] if you are unemployed and
you have a combined family income below R3,600 per month.”
Those falling into these categories can call a dedicated toll-free
number (0800 428 8364) or email a claim (support at gauteng.gov.za). The
details of these contacts have been advertised in Gauteng on flyers and
“When you submit your name and ID, we screen you,” Hlongwane says.
“We work with banks and Home Affairs to verify [you are in need]. Then
we send social workers to come and assess you. Households with children
and elderly people get priority.”
The Western Cape department of social development, meanwhile, is
offering food support to people who meet the following criteria:
* A household containing member/s of the family who tested positive
for the virus and are in quarantine in their homes.
* A household where a member of the family who tested positive for the
virus and who have insufficient means to sustain themselves during
the lockdown period.
* People on medication or who suffer from a chronic illness and have
insufficient means to sustain themselves and were assessed and
referred by a local clinic or registered health practitioner.
* A person and their household who have insufficient means to sustain
themselves during the lockdown period who was referred by a
registered humanitarian relief agency, registered NPO or a municipal
manager, and assessed by DSD [Department of Social Development].
Claims for food have to be routed through the provincial government call
centre, a municipal manager or a registered NPO. They are then subjected
to a telephonic assessment by a social worker, and screening of the
person’s ID against the Sassa database to check whether they are already
a grant recipient.
The provincial government states: “Once a prospective beneficiary is
confirmed as meeting the criteria, they are then contacted by the
department and given details of when delivery will take place.”
*Problem #4: The politicisation of food distribution and related corruption*
Claims have already emerged of the process of food distribution being
The DA’s Gauteng social development spokesperson Refiloe Nt’sekhe
released a statement on Wednesday alleging that “five DA wards in the
Emfuleni local municipality have been excluded from the distribution of
food parcels while all the ANC wards in this municipality are benefiting”.
Gauteng DSD spokesperson Hlongwane denied this claim to /Daily
“The DSD serves all the vulnerable of our province. It does not
choose…We have called for all political parties not to politicise
poverty. The DA must not use this platform to gain popularity”.
The EFFhas made a similar claim
alleging that EFF members are being denied food parcels in both Tshwane
and the Eastern Cape.
In the Western Cape, GOOD MPL Brett Herron also stated on Tuesday:
“South Africa has an unfortunate history of politicising the giving of
food parcels. From Gauteng, over the Easter Weekend, and from the
Western Cape today, the GOOD Party has received multiple reports that
food aid is not being distributed in a fair and equitable way.”
In addition, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco)
Tshwane branch has laid a corruption charge with police over claims that
Gauteng department officials have stolen food parcels for their own
Hlongwane told /Daily Maverick/:
“We have never got any complaint from any whistleblower. As a department
we are still waiting for names to be forwarded. A case has been opened;
we have been asking for information to do our own investigation.”
Hlongwane said that there were strict protocols in place controlling the
removal of food parcels from the central Gauteng depot.
“You sign a register to say how many parcels you take, and there is
monitoring and evaluation,” he said.
In a different context,/Daily Maverick/ also reported this week
that although gangs on the Cape Flats are said to be distributing food
parcels, it is alleged that only households which agree to hide drugs
for the gangs are receiving relief.
*Problem #5: Concerns around health and safety when people collect food*
There has been some conflict over the safest way for people to collect
food under lockdown. In Gauteng, NGOs wrote to Basic Education Minister
Angie Motshekga asking for schools to be opened to serve as collection
points for food for households which ordinarily benefit from the school
In response,Gauteng premier David Makhura said that
to open schools in this way would endanger children and break the rules
of social distancing.
In the Western Cape, however, school feeding schemes have continued
under lockdown – targeting around 483,000 learners who normally receive
meals at schools. Over the past fortnight, R18-million has been
allocated from the provincial treasury for schools to distribute food
over four days, with individual schools permitted to offer daily meals.
This move has prompted criticism from Cosatu, the chair of Parliament’s
committee on education and the South African Democratic Teachers Union
(Sadtu) due to the health issues raised by Makhura.
The Western Cape education department denied that its actions were
endangering the public and said that sufficient measures were being
taken to ensure health and safety, including strictly enforced queuing
protocols and requiring learners to bring their own food containers from
home which are not touched by staff.
But the issue of large groups forming in order to claim food is a real
concern, with police already having to break up groups of this kind in
Oosthuizen says that any food distribution solutions are going to have
to ensure that South Africa does not see “high levels of conglomeration
of citizens in queues”.
Desperation and hunger also give rise to situations where food
distribution can erupt into violence – as/Daily Maverick/ reported was
in a Nelson Mandela Bay township recently when a church’s attempt to
hand out food parcels descended into a fistfight.
*Problem #6: Lack of co-ordination and communication around food
Many South Africans have indicated their willingness to donate food to
those in need – but a broad-based response may be both a blessing and a
“This is being handled well in the Western Cape, where there is a
society-wide approach. Provincial government has aligned itself with
churches, NGOs etc and sees itself more as the co-ordinating agent,”
Elsewhere, the lack of co-ordination between individual relief efforts
and the national government is causing problems.
Oosthuizen cites the case of a Johannesburg pastor who was reportedly
arrested while trying to deliver food to the township of Zandspruit, and
was told he would have to wait for the relevant permission from Cogta
(the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs).
There have been similar reports elsewhere in the country of attempted
food distribution efforts by individuals or NGOs being blocked by
“The actions of NGOs and churches on the ground are becoming
criminalised due to a lack of broad co-ordination with the DSD,”
In some places, social unrest has been fomented through mixed messages
about the delivery of food parcels. Protests which broke out in
Alexandra this week appeared to be stoked by a misunderstanding over
food promised by well-intentioned donors which did not arrive.
Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubosubsequently appealed to the public
<https://www.enca.com/news/chaos-alexandra-over-food-parcels> to contact
the City of Johannesburg before distributing food so that the process
could be co-ordinated centrally.
*So what are the solutions?*
Oosthuizen and fellow GIBS researchers have written up a number of
proposals. One is to replace the current system of distributing physical
food parcels with some form of voucher system which could be scaled up
quickly with greater ease.
Another option: a basic income grant, which had been mooted by
economists for some time even before the pandemic.
Both would require the rapid accumulation of data in order to create a
database to ensure the support reaches the desired recipients.
Oosthuizen also proposes an approach which integrates the collection of
food support with health and testing services: in other words, the
establishment of designated spaces to which people can go to collect
food support /and/ potentially be screened for Covid-19 in one place.
“Broadly, we are going to need a more collaborative approach,” he says.
“The only way this is going to work is if there is a very high level of
Much-needed support is also about to be rolled out by the Solidarity
Fund, which will be releasing further details about its feeding plans on
Friday 17 April.
Spokesperson Itumeleng Mahabane told /Daily Maverick/ that R120-million
has been earmarked from the fund to feed 200,000 families across all
provinces, including in rural areas.
The Solidarity Fund’s plans sound promising. Although it is partnering
with the department of social development, it will make use of
additional partners to ensure that food is distributed more widely than
would be possible working through government alone.
Mahabane said that the fund is working with four NGOs with a national
footprint – whose names are being kept under wraps for now – and an
additional private-sector distribution partner.
“The idea is to augment the department’s own distribution networks with
the distribution networks of the four NGOs,” Mahabane said.
He said the fund would also engage with further community and
faith-based organisations on the ground to help identify those most in
*Law and order*
Food riots and other forms of social unrest are certainly on the cards,
unless the government intervenes.
Dr Johan Burger, a senior research consultant for the Institute for
Security Studies’ Justice and Violence Prevention Programme, said there
was "real need and desperation", which did not leave the security
services with much room. They are expected to enforce the law and will
now have to deal with outbreaks of violence and confrontations over food.
"My next worry is they will be forced into a situation where the
violence becomes so big, so threatening, that they will use more force
than is necessary and people will be seriously injured or maybe even
killed because of a need for food," Burger said.
He suggested that the government needed to immediately, on a large
scale, provide food to communities in need on a regular basis.
"You cannot leave this problem to the security services, this is not
going to solve the problem. It is a recipe for disaster," Burger said.
Cele has lost the plot, says top cop, warning social unrest looms over
Concerns are rising that South Africa will experience a sharp increase
in crime and social unrest as desperation over food supplies spills into
streets and shops around the country.
According to a senior police official, who briefed News24 over concerns
raised during high-level government meetings this week, it was only a
matter of time before protests and looting erupted on an unmanageable scale.
The official, who cannot be named as they are not authorised to speak
with the media, said a warning over possible increases in social unrest
as witnessed in Cape Town this week was given to police management and
Police Minister Bheki Cele.Thursday marked three weeks since the
commencement of a nationwide lockdown which effectively confined
millions to their homes.
The lockdown resulted in thousands of small and medium businesses and
their staff as well as informal traders and workers being cut off from
their income streams overnight.
On Thursday evening, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said 48 people have
now died after contracting the coronavirus, with the majority being in
KwaZulu-Natal (20), adding the number of confirmed cases now stood at 2
605 of which 903 people have recovered.
The official raised concern over Cele's consideration of the possible
protests and looting, saying the minister "had lost the plot".
"He [Cele] is not ignoring it,” the official said. “But if we don't put
out these fires quickly, it will get too big to control."
Lockdown: 'We want food', kids chant, as Mitchells Plain residents
protest | @itchybyte
— News24 (@News24) April 14, 2020
The official said it appeared Cele was more concerned with alcohol and
cigarette bans, and policing petty violations than tackling the real
"We are policing petty crimes while people are getting beaten up and
murdered for going to the shops. People are broke, people are hungry.
Crime is going to go through the roof. We are worried that more people
will die of starvation than will die of the coronavirus."
The official added they were already hearing of problems with the
distribution of food parcels, and disparity over who was given parcels
and who were not.
Phone calls to known Cele numbers, as well as an emailed request for
comment went unanswered.
On Thursday, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said more than 10 100 people
have been arrested in the province for lockdown violations.
Lockdown unraveling? Government dithers on economy as regulations
threaten to squeeze fiscus further
Sarah Evans and Kyle Cowan
As South Africa enters its fourth week of lockdown, the government’s
perceived dithering on the economy and "harmful" new regulations pose a
threat to the economy as well as safety and security, experts have warned.
* The government's phone lines are overwhelmed with all the requests
for food parcels
* New regulations published this week by Cabinet appear to further
stifle sectors of the economy
* A Cabinet meeting on socio-economic plans for after the lockdown
produced no results
* A senior police official said fears of social unrest are increasing,
On Thursday, the government issued new regulations as part of its plans
to gradually ease the lockdown. But several contentious regulations are
* The ban on cigarettes and alcohol sales remains
* Wine farms are no longer allowed to transport their stock to ports
* The sale of hot foods by retailers is still prohibited
State brutality sows fear in housebound citizens
Brutal beatings at the hands of the police and military – and arrests
for documenting these assaults – have left some residents living in fear
of the state during the Covid-19 lockdown.
By: Ihsaan Haffejee <https://www.newframe.com/writer/ihsaan-haffejee/>
15 Apr 2020
* Features <https://www.newframe.com/category/feature/>
A loaf of bread and a bottle of Coke. Those were the items Tumelo* set
out to get from a spaza shop near his home in Sebokeng in southern
Gauteng. Instead, what he got was a violent beating from members of the
South African Corps of Military Police, who have been accompanying the
police and army on their patrols during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The brutalising encounter has left him physically injured and mentally
traumatised. And the unchecked violence of the authorities has instilled
fear and distrust of the police and army in those living in the area.
Inside the small shack he shares with his mother, 23-year-old Tumelo is
seated next to family members and community leaders as he shares his
story. The hood of his top is drawn over his head, blocking out the
world. When he speaks, his words are barely audible. His usual
fast-talking and jovial nature have left him. He winces in pain as he
shifts his position on the couch. Little white plastic packets filled
with pain medication are scattered over the kitchen table.
It was late morning on 7 April when Tumelo’s mother sent him to the
spaza shop. Tumelo was walking back home through the dusty streets of
Sebokeng when he saw the snaking convoy of police and military vehicles
approaching. “There was a police car right in front and the policeman
inside told us we better run,” says Tumelo. And so he ran, but he didn’t
get far and was soon set upon by members of the military police, who
wrestled him to the ground and beat him viciously.
A young woman filmed Tumelo running down the street, trying to evade the
authorities, on her cellphone from her yard. In the video, Tumelo is
seen desperately trying to get away from the officers. He has some space
to run into but is blocked by a military ambulance, which veers into his
path. A female officer jumps out and Tumelo runs around the ambulance.
He zigs and zags but is eventually surrounded by at least three members
of the military police. Tumelo is flung to the ground where military
police officers can be seen kicking him violently as he lies on his back
and tries to protect his head.
One officer takes a final swipe, aiming a kick at the back of Tumelo’s
head. In an act that can only be described as cowardly, his heavy boot
smashes into the back of Tumelo’s head with such ferocity that his
entire body jerks forward. “What the fuck?” the woman in the video can
be heard saying as the encounter comes to an end and Tumelo is left
lying dazed and confused in the street.
On the other news the boy from Sebokeng was sent to the shop to
purchase some essentials for his family where he was brutally
assaulted by SANDF
The case has been opened at Sebokeng police station.
Bheki Cele please try giving you instructions in venec next time
— Donsi (@JSmad920710) April 9, 2020
The video was shared among residents and quickly made it on to the
larger social media networks, where it went viral. It wasn’t long before
the police and army became aware of the video and the convoy of vehicles
returned to the street, this time in search of the resident who had
filmed the incident. They arrested the two women, the home owner and her
friend. The owner’s three-year-old toddler had to be left in the care of
a neighbour as his mother was bundled into a police car and taken away.
Residents descended on the Sebokeng police station to demand the release
of the two women. But the police stonewalled them, refusing to let the
women go. Community leader Nicholas Tshabalala* says the police
indicated that they were charging the women for contravening the
Disaster Management Act. They were kept in the police station cells
overnight and only released in the early hours of the next morning. They
are now both in hiding, fearing for their safety.
The police initially refused to open a case for the abuse Tumelo
suffered at the hands of the military police. He was given the runaround
and it was only when Tshabalala phoned a higher-ranking colonel the next
day that a case was reluctantly opened. “The relationship and the trust
between the community and the police at this moment is irretrievably
broken. Like a bad marriage,” says Tshabalala.
The Sebokeng police station said the only person authorised to comment
on the arrest of the two women and their reluctance to open a case
against the military police for the assault on Tumelo was the national
police spokesperson. But Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said management at the
South African Police Service had taken a decision to stop commenting on
“I am aware of the incident in Sebokeng. But we have taken a decision
not to comment on blow-by-blow police action because this thing is
becoming more about police and policing, rather than the bigger evil,
which is the virus,” said Naidoo.
He said he was receiving hundreds of calls a day with regards to
incidents involving the police. When pressed about why the two women who
filmed the incident from inside their homes were arrested, Naidoo said
there is a regulation in the Disaster Management Act that prohibits such
actions. “The regulations are clear with regards to filming videos and
posting on social media,” said Naidoo.
However, the act only contains regulations that are there to protect the
public against the spread of fake news with regards to Covid-19. They
make no mention of any offence for filming and posting police or army
The regulations state: “Any person who publishes any statement, through
any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any
other person about (a) Covid-19; (b) Covid-19 infection status of any
person; or (c) any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19,
commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment
for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.”
*Killed over a beer*
Three days after the incident in Sebokeng, late in the afternoon on
Friday 10 April, two military personnel entered the Alexandra home of
Collins Khoza under the premise of searching for alcohol. According to
Khoza’s wife, Nomsa Montsha, members of the South African National
Defence Force (SANDF) dragged him outside after finding a beer in the
Khoza remonstrated with the soldiers, telling them that he was inside
his home and not drinking in public. Montsha says the soldiers then
emptied the beer over Khoza in a humiliating fashion, which resulted in
an argument. The two SANDF soldiers then called for backup, which
arrived in the form of a minibus packed with soldiers. They immediately
started beating Khoza, according to Montsha.
When Montsha appealed to the soldiers to stop, she received a blow to
the head. Witnesses say soldiers forced anyone trying to video the
incident to delete their footage. The soldiers left and Khoza retreated
to his bed, where he started vomiting and later passed out. Three hours
later, Khoza was dead. “He held my hand tight and looked at me, and then
I felt his pulse and couldn’t find it,” said Montsha.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters confirmed that
the police in Alexandra have opened a case of murder. SANDF spokesperson
Colonel Louis Kirstein said the military will cooperate with the police
investigation and restated that SANDF members are expected to act within
the confines of the law. “Any action outside the law will not be
condoned,” said Kirstein.
Back on the streets of Sebokeng, close to where Tumelo was beaten,
22-year-old Sibusiso Radebe* sits in his yard with his gate firmly shut.
Radebe also witnessed Tumelo’s beating at the hands of the military
police and the incident has left him petrified. “What they did to that
guy was really bad. Now, when the police and army drive past my house,
my heart just starts beating very fast,” says Radebe. “We are afraid
because we are not sure what will kill us first, the coronavirus or the
Concern over spike in GBV during lockdown
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
* SAKHISENI NXUMALO sakhiseni.nxumalo at inl.co.za
THE Foundation for Human Rights is concerned about the rising incidents
of gender-based violence against women and children during the Covid-19
According to the foundation, the SAPS received more than 2 333
complaints of gender-based violence (GBV) in just seven days of the
Condemning gender-based violence, the foundation said that as the
country battled with the pandemic, gender-based violence incidents were
continuing unabated. The foundation said the cases reported were
predominantly committed against women and children.
The foundation’s co-ordinator, Rumbidzai Chidoori, said gender-based
violence undermined the health, safety, security and dignity of
thousands of women and girls.
“The foundation condemns gender-based violence in all its forms. It is a
grave violation of fundamental human rights contained in our
constitutional Bill of Rights,” said Chidoori.
Chidoori said the first week’s figures were 37% higher than the weekly
average of domestic violence cases reported to the police in 2019 alone.
She said a lot of the structural issues and drivers of GBV were
heightened during the lockdown as women and girls were in isolation with
perpetrators of violence.
“We urge the government to prioritise the prevention and redress of
violence against women. We urge the government to allocate more
resources and work collaboratively with civil society and
community-based organisations to provide front-line services to women
and children during this time.
“Women’s rights are key to building stronger and more resilient
communities. Let us act now in saving the lives of women and children,”
The Gender-Based Violence command centre had received nearly 12 000
calls since the lockdown. From March 1 to 26, they received a total of 4
983 complaints, of which about 133 were GBV-related.
After the announcement of the lockdown, statistics showed that from
March 27 to April 11, the command centre received 8 764 complaints, with
333 related to GBV.
Social Development Department spokesperson Abram Phahlamohlaka said the
command centre received calls in a variety of cases, including domestic
violence, rape, physical abuse and indecent assault.
*The government introduced a temporary employee/employer relief scheme
(Ters) under the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to provide relief to
workers and employers affected by Covid-19.*
But there have already been complaints that the process is cumbersome
and ineffective. Academics estimate
that 45% of workers are not eligible for relief from the UIF.
In an interview with Business Maverick
UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said it would appear as though
businesses are already dismissing workers. He reportedly said that the
UIF normally pays benefits of about R14 million a day, but, in the past
11 days, it has paid R39 million a day – R430 million in total.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was due to table suggestions for some kind
of poverty relief fund or social grant at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
But the Cabinet merely deferred the issue to a meeting next week, saying
more work needed to be done. A statement issued after the meeting made
no mention of the grant.
Action to be taken against inflated pricing
Companies face Competition Commission
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
* | MERCURY REPORTER
THE Competition Commission says it is taking swift action against
companies accused of inflating prices of essential goods amid the
Covid-19 national disaster.
In a statement this week, the commission said it had referred its first
case to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution. This case was filed by
complainants with the commission on March 24, referred to the tribunal
on April 9 and is expected to be heard on April 24.
The commission said it had been inundated with hundreds of complaints
from consumers about prices of certain essential goods and other basic
food items that had suddenly sky-rocketed.
The first case before the tribunal is a company which allegedly hiked
the prices of its facial masks. It said it found that between January 31
to March 5, the company had increased its prices of facial masks from
R41 per box up to the highest price of R500 per box, earning during this
period mark-ups in excess of 500%.
The commission further found that the company’s prices for facial masks
increased by at least 888% when comparing the prices charged on December
9, 2019, to the prices charged on March 5, 2020. Mark-ups (and not
prices) significantly dropped after March 18, 2020, allegedly after the
supplier increased input prices. The supplier is now also under
investigation for excessive pricing.
Facial masks fall under the category of “medical and hygiene supplies”
and have been identified as essential goods for the prevention and
escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The commission said other matters that had been concluded, but had yet
to be referred to the tribunal, included the following:
An investigation of a store that allegedly increased the price of
surgical gloves over a period of a week from R99.99 to R170, with no
cost increase justifications. A pharmacy that earned a more than 300%
mark-up on face masks and hand sanitiser.
A wholesaler of chicken that increased mark-ups for chicken pieces by up
to 50%, with no cost increase justifications.
A supplier of face masks that earned more than 665% in mark-ups.
Tembinkosi Bonakele, the commissioner of the Competition Commission,
said: “The law must take its course – we will see a wave of prosecutions
of firms in the coming days.”
Minister warns of water tanker crime
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
* | African News
HUMAN Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said
yesterday that some business people who previously had contracts to
supply water to impoverished communities were now targeting government’s
infrastructure in a bid to get the supply business back.
The department said it had received information that in Bodibe,
Lichtenburg, in the North West, some of the business people had emptied
new water tankers that were supplied by the government to ensure that
the lucrative business was given to them.
“Vandalism is an act of sabotage. I am happy that in the North West this
matter has been reported to the police,” Sisulu warned.
Police close immigrant-owned spaza shops “for their own safety”
17 April 2020 By Mkhuseli Sizani <https://www.groundup.org.za/author/465/>
“Police are only concentrating on road blocks” complains shop owner
Immigrant spaza shop owners say police in Nelson Mandela Bay have forced
them to close, saying it is for their own safety and citing incidents of
This week 89 shops were forced to shut down. About 25 shops were looted
in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth by people saying they needed
food, according to Said Mohamud, provincial chairperson of the Somali
“Police are only concentrating on road blocks,” he said. “In northerns
areas like Timothy Valley, KwaNoxolo, Booysen Park and Chatty that is
where the problem is. Armed gangs who ride motorbikes come and rob us.
Then the communities also come in and loot our shops.”
“In Soweto-on-Sea township I had to stop the police after they ordered
three shop owners to remove all their stock and leave the area. This was
after one of the shops was looted. But in the other three shops the
community was there protecting our shops,” he said.
But the community could not protect them against the gangs, he said.
Luyanda Cwele, a resident of Chatty in Greenfield, was one of those
trying to protect the shops. But he said police chased them away.
“We were sleeping inside as a group of residents to protect the Top 10
spaza shop … Instead of working with us, they [police from Mount Road
station] just assaulted us. We tried to explain to them that we were
fighting against the looting of our shops. But they told us to go back
to our homes.”
As a knock on effect, those that rent out the shops have lost that
income. Vuyo Matyobeni, a landlord, said, “My shop, which I am renting
out to immigrants, could have been damaged. But the presence of this
brave community prevented that. There is no police presence here hence
the thugs are looting the shops”.
Sizeka Nyodi, 65, said she was frustrated when she saw the Lucky 7 Spaza
shop owners leave Greenfield on Wednesday morning. “We spent the whole
night wearing our gowns and pyjamas protecting this shop from the gangs.
Now, we see police escorting the shop owners with their goods.”
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said, “The recent
lootings and break-ins at the spaza shops in Port Elizabeth this week
were volatile and shop owners were requested to close their shops for
their own safety.
“They were also advised to remove their stock should there be break-ins
during the night … And they were advised that once the situation quelled
down, they could return to their shops. They were never instructed to
close permanently but rather advised of the volatility at that moment.”
She said it was alleged that lootings took place at some shops because
of price hikes.
“Many shops that were looted during the week, have opened and are
operating … SAPS encourages the community to support the spaza shops as
this will minimise the movement of people in their respective areas,”
De-densification is just a fancy word for eviction
By Michael Clark• 17 April 2020
Are our state authorities using the Covid-19 outbreak as an excuse
to justify the forcible eviction of informal settlement residents?
During a press briefing on 24 March 2020, Human Settlements, Water and
Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced that the government planned
to “de-densify” 29 heavily populated informal settlements in an effort
to stop the spread of Covid-19. Since then, five specific settlements
were identified as priority areas. According to Sisulu, de-densification
is necessary to ensure that families living in densely inhabited
informal settlements are able to effectively practice physical distancing.
But what does de-densification actually mean? The Social Justice
Coalition (SJC)’s Axolile Notywala explained
best when he said that de-densification “is a fancier word for forced
De-densification, as conceived of by the state, means relocating people
away from their existing homes to a different location – usually
somewhere less well-located with fewer resources.
As Sisulu said: “We will need to urgently move some of our people for
the de-densification to be realised. Land parcels to relocate and
decantdense communities have been secured”. She added that these
relocations were necessary to relocate communities to “healthier and
There is no doubt that communities living in informal settlements are
particularly vulnerable to the spread of Covid-19 as many informal
settlements have limited (if any) access to basic services, including
water, electricity and sanitation – a direct consequence of the failures
of the post-apartheid government to improve people’s standard of living.
However, Sisulu’s announcement was met with concern by civil society,
housing activists and informal settlement residents. They are afraid
that the type of accommodation that will be offered to informal
settlement residents – rather than “healthier, safer homes” – would more
likely be underserviced, government-sanctioned shacks, located in
far-flung areas and without adequate access to basic services.
These concerns are not unfounded. This is exactly the kind of
accommodation that the government has offered people being evicted or
relocated for decades in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
The government calls these settlements Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs)
or transit camps, but residents refer to them as what they are –
“/amathini”/, “/blikkies/” or “government shacks”. Kerry Ryan Chance, an
anthropology lecturer at Harvard University, has likened them to “human
TRAs are “temporary” camps made of tents or corrugated iron dwellings
erected by the government to house families who have been displaced as a
result of an emergency or eviction. The dwellings are often poorly
constructed and fragile. In many respects, these camps are
indistinguishable from the corrugated iron shacks that people have been
removed from, except for one crucial difference: their location.
TRAs are often located at the margins of urban areas – even further away
from economic opportunities, transport routes and social amenities like
schools, hospitals, police stations and clinics than the informal
settlements from which people have been removed.
As a result of their peripheral location, these camps often have limited
or no access to basic services, forcing hundreds of families to collect
water from a few communal standpipes and share a small number of outdoor
toilets (that are often blocked or broken). In some instances, poor
planning has meant that people are relocated to TRAs /before /the
requisite infrastructure for the most basic services is in place.
Many informal settlement residents have resisted evictions and
relocations to these areas for decades. However, in the face of a
national disaster as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and with the full
institutional force of the state supporting their removal, many will be
unable to fight their relocation.
This is not the first time that health concerns have been used to
justify removing people from their homes. During the colonial and
apartheid eras, the state often violently uprooted whole neighbourhoods
of black and coloured households on the basis that their very presence
in well-located urban areas threatened the health of the public as a whole.
Laws like the Health Act of 1817, the Slums Act of 1934 and the Health
Act of 1977 gave the police far-reaching powers to forcibly relocate
black and coloured people. The apparently race-neutral language of these
laws masked their insidious impact and the ease with which the colonial
and apartheid states could employ them to do the dirty work of racial
These historical removals raise some deeply concerning questions. Could
our state authorities be using the Covid-19 outbreak as an excuse to
justify the forcible eviction of informal settlement residents?
In Cape Town, these concerns may be justified. Within a week of Sisulu’s
announcement, Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements Tertius Simmers
announced that two densely populated informal settlements had been
identified for “thinning”, namely Greater Kosovo and DeNoon. Both of
these areas had historically been earmarked for relocations by the City
– leading some to question whether the City is using the national
disaster to more easily push through evictions that it was already planning.
And this isn’t solely an issue in Cape Town. Of the five informal
settlements identified by the government for de-densification, three
have seen attempted evictions either at the hands of the state or
private landowners – DeNoon in the Western Cape, Kennedy Road in
KwaZulu-Natal and Mooiplaas in Tshwane. Local politicians have long
considered Kennedy Road and DeNoon “problem areas” – probably due to
regular community protests and active community resistance. In most of
these settlements, attempts at eviction or relocation have been resisted
and even challenged in court. Now, however, the already limited ability
of informal settlement residents to resist their relocation has been
Relocating informal settlement residents to accommodation modelled on
existing TRAs or transitional housing could have devastating
consequences. Research on the impact of TRAs
by Ndifuna Ukwazi in 2017 shows that relocations have an incredibly
disruptive impact on the fragile social support networks of informal
settlement residents – support that is essential during an international
health crisis. But more worrying is the dire economic implications that
even relatively minor relocations could have as people are cut off from
their sources of livelihood or income-generating opportunities and
forced to spend more of their earnings travelling to and from work. In
the face of the looming international economic fallout in the wake of
Covid-19, should we not do everything in our power to protect people’s
existing livelihood strategies at all costs? And given that the basic
services in TRAs are frequently worse than in existing informal
settlements, are these homes really going to be “healthier and safer”?
Perhaps most worrying is that these relocations will not be temporary.
Many of the TRAs set up by the government have ended up becoming
permanent as residents wait years or even decades to be moved to
permanent housing. KwaZulu-Natal Human Settlements MEC Peggy Nkonyeni
“many people have been staying [in transit camps] for more than 10 years
and if you ask me how their living conditions are… they are very very bad.”
Some TRAs, like the infamous settlements in Blikkiesdorp or Wolwerivier,
have become synonymous with government neglect. Mark Hunter, an
associate professor at the University of Toronto, has said that
residents are “often left in these areas indefinitely without any
timeline on when they will be provided permanent accommodation”. At the
periphery of the City, they fall off the housing radar and become
invisible to those in power.
But Cyril Ramaphosa’s government doesn’t have to repeat the mistakes
made by previous governments. It has the opportunity to adopt a more
humane, sustainable response to the housing needs of informal
settlements while also doing everything in its power to slow the spread
of Covid-19. One option, suggested by the Cape Town Community Action
Network (CAN), is to utilise existing public facilities to house
informal settlement residents temporarily during the crisis.
If certain informal settlements need to be “de-densified” to help with
social distancing, then why not move those residents into hotels like
the UK government plans on doing
Or move residents to sports stadiums and schools with boarding
facilities? Using these kinds of existing, well-located facilities that
are already equipped with running water and adequate sanitation would
ensure the temporary housing is both healthier and safer, and that it is
in fact temporary. After the crisis, residents would be allowed to
return to their homes because they cannot just be left in public
facilities the way they could be dumped on the outskirts of the city.
Another option would be to offer residents tenure security on
well-located public land rather than peripheral areas.
In the 1870s Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx’s collaborator on the /Analysis
of Capitalism/, documented the horrific housing conditions of the
working classes in industrial cities in England. Engels wrote that the
bourgeoisie has no method for settling the housing question other than
moving it around. In a poignant passage, he wrote:
“[S]candalous alleys and lanes disappear to the accompaniment of lavish
self-praise from the bourgeoisie on account of this tremendous success,
but they appear again immediately somewhere else…”
More than 150 years later, our governments and elites have still found
no better way of dealing with the housing needs of the poor and
working-class other than to move them to a place where they are
invisibilised – at least until the next crisis comes along.
“For billions across the world, and for us here in South Africa,”
Ramaphosa said in his national address on 9 April 2020, “the coronavirus
pandemic has changed everything. We can no longer work in the way we
Our government recognises that we need to adapt to a new reality. And
this demands that we protect and house the vulnerable in a dignified
Shack dwellers win court victory against City of Cape Town
17 April 2020 By James Stent <https://www.groundup.org.za/author/464/>
Empolweni residents whose shacks were demolished during the lockdown
can return to the land and rebuild
Residents of Empolweni informal settlement whosehomes were demolished
by the City of Cape Town have won a victory in the Western Cape High
Court against the City on Friday. The matter was heard on the urgent
roll and was twice delayed by the City.
Judge Bryan Hack ruled that the City must allow 130 people to return to
Empolweni and must give back the residents their building materials.
Where material has been damaged, the City is to ensure that there is
sufficient material for all 49 homes to be rebuilt.
The relief relates only to the urgent matters of restoration of
materials and permission to return to the land. The matter will be heard
in full after the Covid-19 lockdown has ended.
The order is contingent on no more people moving to the site. The
Empolweni community has agreed to prevent further erection of structures
on the site. If they are unable to prevent further building, they are to
report this to the City through their attorneys at the Legal Resources
Civil society organisations – the Social Justice Coalition and Ndifuna
Ukwazi – have agreed to assist the residents with the implementation of
Outside court, Buhle Neo, speaking for the Khayelitsha Community Action
Network (CAN) which has been supporting the residents of Empolweni, said
that he accepted the ruling, and that his primary concern, that people
are housed, has been met.
The residents of Empolweni were represented by Advocates Ismail Jamie
and Michael Bishop, and their attorneys were Khensani Motileni and
Anneline Turpin of the Legal Resources Centre.
A statement by the City said that it was entitled to protect its land.
“[The judge] has made an interim ruling on humanitarian grounds and
without considering the merits of the application,” said the City. “The
City is allowed to remove any new illegally erected structures with
immediate effect. Land invasions are illegal. The Judge acknowledged
this aspect and emphatically denounced land grabs.”
The City also published photographic evidence showing that the land
occupations took place after the lockdown began, although this was
acknowledged by the land occupiers
to GroundUp from the onset.
Hospital staff demand protective gear and danger pay
17 April 2020 By Thamsanqa Mbovane
NEHAWU meets with Dora Nginza hospital management to resolve complaints
Over 100 clerks, nurses, porters and general staff at Dora Nginza
Hospital in Zwide township, Port Elizabeth, downed tools briefly on
Friday, demanding they be given personal protective equipment (PPE) and
danger allowance among other things.
Workers were singing Zeningoyiki (Don’t be afraid) and Sawabeth’
amagwala (We will beat the cowards) and banging on doors as they made
their way from one office to another, encouraging their colleagues to join.
In the background, dozens of patients sat unattended on waiting room
benches. The protest was led by the National Education, Health and
Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU).
A man who only identified himself as a NEHAWU shop steward said: “You
work as if nothing is happening. This Covid-19 is affecting all of us,
whether you’re managers or whatsoever … We are demanding danger
allowance, and we are saying that Covid-19 should have been budgeted
for. We are working with sick people and we stand a chance of getting
NEHAWU regional secretary Busiswa Stokwe said workers were angry that
the hospital would host Covid-19 patients as an isolation facility.
“Workers argue that they were not consulted about this. Their
understanding is that the only process they will get involved in is
Covid-19 screening. Thereafter patients will be referred to Livingston
Hospital for testing,” she said.
Stokwe said: “There is also a stigma of public transport. Any taxi that
finds out that you work at Dora Nginza won’t transport you, saying there
is Covid-19 in that hospital. Workers say taxis [have refused to
transport them]. A nurse and a doctor at this institution have also
tested positive for Covid-19.”
Eastern Cape health spokesman Siyanda Manana confirmed that workers had
returned to work by Friday afternoon. “Their leadership met the CEO and
their complaints were attended to. No service delivery was compromised.
We’re monitoring the situation,” he said.
Covid-19: Lockdown life in crowded Lusikisiki
18 April 2020 By Sibahle Siqathule
Villagers who come to town to shop have to wait hours for taxis to
take them home
From as early as 5am, people from surrounding villages commute to
Lusikisiki in taxis and in the back of canopied bakkies to buy their
groceries. Lockdown has made their day much harder.
Shoppers crowd around the stores, with social distancing observed only
if there are security officers or spacing mechanisms.
Shops, ATM queues and taxi ranks are the most crowded places in the town
Those who finish their shopping early are stuck in town without
transport. They are forced to find shelter under trees or the verandas
of closed shops until 4pm, when taxis are once again allowed to operate.
View Larger Map <https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=10/-31.3220/29.4846>
Lusikisiki is a small town in the middle of a large rural part of the
Eastern Cape, not far from the Wild Coast.
There are police roadblocks at all four entry points into Lusikisiki.
Commuter Sithembile Sukude from Flagstaff said she understands the need
for the lockdown but it is difficult for users of public transport.
“I left home before sunrise and I’ll arrive home after the sun has set,
because of the restrictions on taxis. I think it is very risky having to
hang around town the whole day. They should let taxis take us home,”
Lusikisiki resident Benathi Xolo applauded the police’s efforts during
“Police officers are everywhere, in town and surrounding villages. They
are working hard to keep us safe. They even remind people to maintain a
distance through a loudhailer as they pass by.” Xolo said.
Many supermarkets have sanitisers at the entrances for their customers.
But there are none at taxi ranks.
Hawkers are also feeling the effect of the lockdown. Hawker Thembeka
Mdingwa said she is finding it hard to survive. “I have ten children
that I have to provide for. Things were already difficult before the
lockdown, now it is a daily struggle to live.”
The regular washing of hands is difficult for the villages surrounding
Lusikisiki and Flagstaff as residents still struggle to access clean
water. Many depend on rivers for the precious liquid.
Why the alcohol ban is hard to swallow
Either state earns sin tax revenues or criminals make a great deal
of money out of inflated prices
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
* MARY DE HAAS | African News Agency (ANA) Archives De Haas is KZN
* //*Banning the sale of alcohol promotes organised crime, argues the
REGARDLESS of personal feelings about the evils or otherwise of liquor
and cigarettes, the case for lifting the current ban on legal access is
very simple: either the financially hard-pressed state earns the sin tax
revenues or the criminals, including organised crime networks, make a
great deal of money out of inflated prices.
Temperance societies in early 20th century America were instrumental in
persuading the government to ban alcohol sales. The results are well
known. As in the Cape Flats today, where drugs are the commodity of
choice, organised crime networks, backed up by bloody violence, ensured
black market supplies kept flowing.
In South Africa, successive colonial and apartheid governments tried to
stop black people from accessing “white” liquor and all other alcohol
except government manufactured sorghum beer and that brewed at home for
ritual family consumption.
As in America, this prohibition didn’t work: black people continued to
brew their own beer and concoctions for commercial purposes, and to
access “white” liquor – despite heavy punishment, including
imprisonment, for transgressions (which, like pass law infringements,
criminalised countless thousands of black South Africans).
One of the arguments used by those supporting the continued ban is that
the sale of liquor will promote behaviour which ignores social
distancing. Crucial as social distancing is, for many hundreds of
thousands of South Africans living in crowded shacks and hostels, or
even visiting busy public hospitals and clinics – let alone using taxis
– it is already virtually impossible to observe.
Wearing masks is no solution unless there is water and soap to wash them
with after using them (let alone washing hands). Hunger is becoming an
even more serious problem for poor people, so whatever food they can
afford will take priority over soap.
Even in the UK, where lockdown remains in force, wine and beer are still
available in supermarkets.
Legalising the sale of liquor (even if only of, for example, different
types of beer and wine) will not necessarily impact on social distancing
if bars and taverns remain closed, or their operations are restricted
(but that is another issue altogether for the government to decide on).
Why should beer or wine not be drunk in the privacy of one’s home?
Another argument relates to the link between alcohol consumption and the
strain placed on medical services rendering casualty/emergency care.
While alcohol may play a part in violence (and levels of domestic
violence remain high despite the ban) the main causal factor in casualty
admittance is probably road accidents.
Our road accident rate is abnormally high, not only because the general
standard of driving is atrocious, but because far too many people get
away with drinking and driving, causing accidents and deaths while under
That this driving persists reflects the abysmal failure of road traffic
authorities to penalise people severely (as, for example, in the UK or
Australia). Now is a good time to start clamping down on drunk driving,
given the reduction of traffic on the road, and prevalence of road
blocks, and continue checks when bans on liquor and travel are lifted.
Zero tolerance should start with the regular testing of all taxi and bus
drivers (and their licences and vehicles’ roadworthiness). A failure to
ensure such regular checks is tantamount to criminal negligence given
how many people rely on public transport.
High rates of alcoholism is a serious problem in South Africa, but it is
one of long standing, exacerbated by years of lifestyle-linked advertising.
Like other forms of addiction (including gambling), alcoholism needs
addressing, but through appropriate means, including by supporting
organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
The ban on cigarettes is incomprehensible since – apart of the loss of
tax revenue – nicotine-withdrawal symptoms can be severe. It is well
known that smoking damages health, but authoritarian measures banning
cigarettes have no place when people are already stressed through, for
example, physical confinement and lack of outdoor exercise.
There is an element of hypocrisy in the banning of liquor since many in
a position to do so would have stocked up before the ban (like those
wheeling trollies loaded with liquor out of stores, who may be among
those selling it).
Are all politicians now on the water wagon, or are their extravagant
drinking tastes still being catered for?
It is yet another form of discrimination by elites against poor when
they are penalised for brewing nutritious beer at home.
There is no good reason not to lift the ban on these tax-earning goods,
especially lower alcohol-content drinks such as beers and wine.
However, any lifting of the ban will need to be carefully thought out,
and accompanied by restrictions on sales which will minimise the risk of
stocks being depleted by those determined to stockpile, possibly for
their own commercial purposes.
Organised crime networks are already the main cause of violent crime in
South Africa, and a continued blanket ban on alcohol and cigarettes can
only strengthen their hand – and deprive the looted state coffers of
desperately needed revenue.
Nearly 400 schools vandalised and torched in three weeks
Learning and teaching equipment and other expensive items have been
stolen from schools across the country during the lockdown period.
by Andrea Chothia <https://www.thesouthafrican.com/author/andrea-chothia/>
in News <https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/>
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is extremely concerned that 397
schools have been vandalised across the country since the lockdown
started a mere three weeks ago.
The damage caused due to torching and theft in schools will have a
negative impact on the implementation of the recovery plan once the
lockdown is lifted.
*Provincial departments report alarming rates of school break-ins *
Provincial Education Departments have reported an alarming number of
schools that have been vandalised. According to a DBE statement,
released on Friday 17 April, learning and teaching equipment was stolen
together with other expensive items.
“The most common target areas in the schools are the administration
blocks for Information Communication Technology equipment and the
nutrition centres for the food items,” said Basic Education Minister
These are the number of schools that were vandalised in each province
during the lockdown:
* Mpumalanga – 73;
* Gauteng – 67;
* Western Cape – 57;
* North West – 55;
* Northern Cape – 39 schools;
* KwaZulu-Natal – 34;
* Limpopo – 30;
* Eastern Cape – 26; and
* Free State – 16.
This brings the total number of vandalised schools to 397.
*Arrests for vandalism *
Motshekga has condemned the incidents of vandalism, burglary and
destruction of schools across the country. The minister has welcomed the
arrests of 44 suspects thus far in Gauteng, including those found in
possession of stolen property linked to school break-ins in the
province. Two arrests were made in the last 24 hours in KZN.
“It is really unfortunate that criminals in our communities could
destroy the infrastructure of their own children. We applaud the
work done by the police and we hope that more arrests will be made.
We want to see the arrest and prosecution of every single criminal
responsible for this kind of behaviour,” she said.
Motshekga said communities were supposed to be caretakers of the
infrastructure put in place by the government for the education of
“These criminals must be reported to the police immediately. Let us
work together to safeguard the future of our children by exposing
these criminal elements,” she added.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also mentioned that the total
number of schools vandalised and burnt during lockdown had increased to
a whopping 67
“It is unfortunate to confirm that criminals continued to break
-into our schools and as such a total number of school break-ins are
67,” said Lesufi.
This has become a state of emergency now: pic.twitter.com/264XRHvNfF
— Elijah Mhlanga (@ElijahMhlanga) April 17, 2020
Relief in sight as government eases lockdown rules, but regulations
remain, warns minister
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
* BALDWIN NDABA and AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)
SOUTH Africa would ease its extended lockdown – imposed to curb the
spread of the novel coronavirus – in an incremental manner, Minister of
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
“Industries will have to slowly come on stream. Do not think we are
changing the regulations, it is an orderly way of easing the lockdown.
We cannot just say the lockdown has ended on this specific day and we
open the floodgates. Expect that every week, new things will be coming
on stream,” Dlamini Zuma said, addressing reporters in Pretoria.
“Some (restrictions) will remain in place for a very long time.”
South Africa remains the most affected country in Africa by the
pandemic, with at least 2605 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The fatalities
in the country have also risen to 48, according to statistics released
by the national Department of Health.
Dlamini Zuma said that South Africa had now started to clear imported
goods that were at the various ports, to clear the backlog.
“We have been learning about this disease. We have now learnt that if
the goods have been at sea for many days, the virus will not survive. So
there is no need for the goods that have been at sea for a long time to
be sanitised at the ports because the virus would have died,” said
Relief is in sight for mineworkers after Dlamini Zuma announced that at
least 50% of mineworkers at different mines in the country would be
allowed to return to work. Initially, the regulations allowed coal mines
to operate, but Dlamini Zuma said this permission had now been extended
to other mines.
She said the decision had been prompted by a report that the government
had received that stipulated that some mines were in danger of rockfalls
if they were not operational.
“We agreed that these mines must start to operate at a level of 50% of
their workforces, under strict conditions. The mine owners must conduct
screening and testing for their employees. They must also have
quarantine facilities for all those workers who test positive for the virus.
“The companies must arrange transport for their employees,” Dlamini Zuma
Indicating that the government was working towards an orderly phasing
out of the lockdown, Dlamini Zuma said petrol and diesel retailers were
allowed to go back to work to ramp up the availability of the products
before the end of the lockdown. Hardware, vehicle repairs retailers,
call centres and ICT services had also been allowed to return to work.
Regulations related to funerals remained the same.
The government said plumbers and electricians would be allowed to visit
homes to fix broken utilities, and hardware stores and vehicle
components – especially those used to fix essential services vehicles –
were also allowed to reopen.
Meanwhile, as a major showdown is looming between President Cyril
Ramaphosa and tavern and shebeen owners, the government has announced a
new regulation banning the transportation of alcoholic beverages during
The Gauteng Liquor Forum was waiting for Ramaphosa’s response to their
letter of demand to relax restrictions on the sale and distribution of
The forum, through its legal representative Eric Mabuza, had initially
given Ramaphosa until Wednesday to respond to their demands, but
Ramaphosa requested a delay until today.
The Liquor Forum threatened to approach the high court to force the
government to relax the restrictions.
While Ramaphosa is expected to pen his response – Dlamini Zuma was
adamant that “there will be no transportation of alcohol until the end
of the lockdown”.
The added restriction came after the police last week arrested six SAB
employees for allegedly transporting alcohol worth R13 million near
Chamdor, in Kagiso, outside Krugersdorp.
Detailing the new regulations, Dlamini Zuma said: “The only alcohol that
may be legally transported is for commercial purposes, such as hand
“The transportation of essential goods is permitted from warehousing
sites to essential service providers, with the exception of the
transportation of liquor.”
OUTBREAK AT KZN FOOD FACTORY
Tiger Brands says food safety was not compromised at Albany Bakery
Fry Group Foods and Coca-Cola also shut down operations
* The Mercury
* 17 Apr 2020
/| NQOBILE MBONAMBI African News Agency (ANA)/*THE company said it had
put measures in place to support all staff and that alternate
arrangements would be made to supply its Durban customer base from its
TIGER Brands was forced to shut down one of its operations – Albany
Bakery – after a Covid-19 outbreak at its South Coast Road, Durban,
The Fry Group Foods, in Westmead, Pinetown, and Gauteng-based beverage
giant Coca-Cola have also ceased operations after reporting infections.
Twelve employees from the administrative division of Albany Bakery
tested positive for the virus.
In a statement, Tiger Brands said that none of the infected employees
worked on the production line or was involved in the delivery of the
product to customers.
Tiger Brands said an employee who reported for duty was advised to seek
medical attention after reporting feeling ill with flu-like symptoms.
The employee was confirmed positive on April 9.
“All employees who had come into close contact with the individual were
identified, and sent for precautionary testing and self-isolation, as
they were asymptomatic. The testing was subsequently extended to all
staff in the administration building, where the first patient worked.
“The results were received on Wednesday and 12 employees tested positive
and are in self isolation,” the statement read.
“Naturally, we appreciate that this may cause concerns around food
safety regarding bread. According to the WHO (World Health
Organization), NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) and
the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), there is currently no
evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the
Tiger Brands said its bread- manufacturing process was highly automated
– from mixing, to baking, to slicing, to sealing in tamper-proof bags
“In the event of a positive Covid-19 case, we have developed specific
protocols to mitigate the risk of any environmental or surface
contamination. This includes isolation and sanitising of the packaged
product, all surfaces in the factory and all delivery trucks. As a
result of the bakery’s closure, the bread produced in this facility on
Wednesday has not been dispatched to the market.”
It said it anticipated reopening the bakery by early next week.
Managing director for Fry Group Foods, Caroline Garnett, said they had
quarantined all employees for 14 days while the factory was sanitised.
She said it was suspected that a managerial employee contracted the
virus from a supplier who visited the premises recently. “The Durban
facility has been closed, and all employees were screened and tested for
Covid-19 by the Department of Health.
“It is unclear when the factory will reopen,” Garnett said.
According to an internal memo sent to employees at Coca-Cola’s Devland
manufacturing plant, a worker with the respiratory disease was on-site
“We have already initiated a tracing process to identify all employees
who may have been in contact with the positive colleague, and these
employees will undergo testing,” said managing director Velaphi Ratshefola.
Economist Mike Schussler said factories which produced critical food
supplies needed to adopt a “clean up quickly and move on” attitude.
He said closing such major factories for a day or two was understandable.
“South Africa cannot afford to have food producers closed for a long
time. The country does have relatively good food security, as we produce
a lot of our own food. But people need to eat to survive. Bread is a
staple and we don’t have diverse enough suppliers to allow for even one
bakery to close for a long period,” Schussler said.
National Consumer Union vicechairperson Clif Johnston said it did not
foresee food shortages during the lockdown. “We have a very diverse set
of suppliers in this country, so it is quite possible one or two may
well close but there are always alternatives.
“The WHO has said food itself is not considered a primary vector of
infection, so if someone bought bread from Albany they don’t need to
rush off and test themselves,” Johnston said.
The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa’s chief executive, Gwarega
Mangozhe, said the retail and food manufacturing sector continued to
operate and there were no current concerns about food shortages.
“The consumer goods manufacturing and food supply chain is robust and
continues to operate even under the current lockdown conditions.
“From a manufacturing, food production and retail perspective, the
lockdown has obviously affected some of our retail members who are
unable to sell all their product lines as they are limited to essential
products only,” Mangozhe said.
“The government ensured that food production is not affected by the
national lockdown by designating it as an essential service.
“We have also asked for clarity on the sale of prepared hot food meals
in supermarkets, and we await the government’s response.”
She said retailers had not experienced any disruption or delays in the
distribution of fresh produce and other foods to supermarkets
According to Infection Prevention and Control protocols, as laid out by
the NICD and WHO, there is no specific time in which a facility needed
to be closed when an outbreak occurred. Each case would be assessed on
its own merits, it said.
A view from the townships
16 April 2020 By GroundUp Staff <https://www.groundup.org.za/author/3/>
GroundUp’s reporters describe what they see
Some townships and informal settlements are quiet, the streets empty as
people observe the rules of the lockdown. In others, life goes on just
as it always did. GroundUp’s reporters describe the areas they know.
Hanover Park, Cape Town
In areas like Hanover Park, where people live in cramped spaces and
there is nothing but concrete, social distancing and staying indoors is
possible, but would affect one’s mental health. Families have very
little to entertain their children indoors, so the only relief can be
found outside, where there is space. And even then, that space is
threatened with gang violence.
In poorer areas, children are not streaming hours of content or turning
to online learning sources as it is just not financially possible. Some
families can barely afford electricity and food.//- Ashraf Hendricks
Tafelsig, Cape Town
No masks or social distancing. It seems that getting food trumps
everything else. On the Cape Flats people don’t trust the police so, I’m
not sure how helpful their patrols are. The lack of parties and events
are helpful for keeping people apart though. My friend bought cigarettes
at a small shop for R40. So the price has gone up if you can find it. I
imagine it’s the same for alcohol if you know where to look. - Ashraf
Vrygrond, Cape Town
Not much social distancing or masks. A friend of mine bought a pack of
cigarettes for R120, and had to search hard to find it.- Lucas Nowicki
Khayelitsha, Cape Town
People don’t social distance - not at informal traders’ stands and not
at big food retailers. I saw shoppers lining up to buy essentials at a
jam-packed Shoprite in Site C, Khayelitsha last week. - Vincent Lali
Delft, Cape Town
Usually, Hindel Road in Delft is crowded with taxis and private cars and
dozens of shoppers battle to cross to and from Delft Mall. Now the road
was deserted. From the mall, the road leads to Mfuleni, Silver Sands,
Blikkiesdorp and other areas. Delft Main Road is also strangely quiet,
with very few motorists and pedestrians. Delft residents seem to be
obeying lockdown regulations. - Vincent Lali
Gugulethu, Cape Town
In Gugulethu Section 3, as in nearby Kanana and New Rest informal
settlements, it’s business as usual. No social distancing. People are
going about their day, going to Shoprite. A well known shebeen in Kanana
is closed but residents who usually visit the spot still gather outside
and just sit there on crates chatting to each other. In terms of
alcohol, there are a lot of people still selling in Gugs, but at
exorbitant prices. To find it you need to know who to talk to, but you
also get those who advertise on their Whatsapp statuses. No masks or
gloves are worn. - Mary-Anne Gontsana
Malmesbury, Western Cape
At the Malmesbury taxi rank, taxi drivers have parked their taxis in
line and it is deserted. Taxi driver Ayanda Mpikashe says life is tough
for taxi drivers as they are only allowed to transport essential workers
who work in shifts. When these workers are at work, the taxis are idle.
Mpikashe said he is struggling to make enough to support his family.
Sixty-two-year-old William Bala, who lives alone in a one-room shack in
Lingelethu, had not heard of the coronavirus. He doesn’t have a radio or
television and doesn’t know what the lockdown is.
He says he is shocked when he goes to buy essential groceries after
receiving his pension, and staff at the retail shops spray his hand
without explaining to him why.
He is living normally as if nothing is happening around him. - Peter Luhanga
There was a soccer match at the end of my street involving over 50
people which ended at about 7pm. They were using broken school desks as
soccer poles and I think the noisy match will start again today. -
Govan Mbeki, Nelson Mandela Bay
It’s business as usual in Nelson Mandela Bay townships. Streets are full
of people and children playing ball on the road. People have a negative
attitude towards someone wearing a mask. Yesterday, a group of women
said “surely there is Covid-19 in our area? Look at this journalist
wearing a mask.”
Kids and the elderly are walking up and down with dogs. Some of the kids
swim in salt pans on hot days.
Other people are busy drinking alcohol and making braais like on a
holiday. Police are only visible on roadblocks or at a crime scene.
Social distance does not exist at clinics and at crime scenes. Masks,
gloves and sanitisers are not used at spaza shops. At clinics nurses
battle to keep patients at a distance from each other. - Mkhuseli Sizani
*Motherwell, Nelson Mandela Bay*
Most people in Motherwell, Ikamvelihle and Wells Estate are not
practising safe social distancing. People say it is very difficult to
adhere to the conditions given that they always stand in queues to buy
“We queue at clinics, at SASSA offices and we queue at communal water
taps,” says Anelisa Msuthu who lives in Shukushukuma with her boyfriend.
“It is a common feature of township life to stand in long and winding
queues to get services. The conditions demanded by the government are
foreign. They belong to the developed world.”
At the NU10, Motherwell clinic on 15 April, 300 people were crammed
together outside the gate.
Police officers manning roadblocks are not telling people why they are
turning them back. They don’t explain or give informal traders time to
pack their stock. The police kick the stalls and destroy everything.
Jikelezas (small township taxis ) are also being turned back. Police do
not give reasons. - Joseph Chirume
People are complying. Since the lockdown started, the streets have been
quiet. Law enforcers come for patrols daily. Apparently, a few residents
were given hot klaps on the first weekend of the lockdown. The news
might have spread throughout the township that soldiers mean business
and people are fearful of stepping out of their houses. - Zimbili Vilakazi
It’s business as usual, no masks, children playing in the streets, no
lines at tuck shops. It’s the same in informal settlements as well. No
social distancing. - Nokulunga Majola
It’s business as usual. People are in the street moving around.
Takeaways are having a field day selling chips and quotas. No masks, no
social distancing, children playing.
Police and soldiers came only once and scared people away but as soon as
they disappeared people were back on the streets.- Kimberley Mutandiro
*Tshikota, Louis Trichardt*
In Tshikota township residents adhere to lockdown regulations only when
police patrol the area. Once police leave, life goes back to normal.
In town (Louis Trichardt) few people are seen in streets and most of
them are carrying Shoprite shopping bags indicating that they have come
to shop. Police patrol the streets and at times question people or order
them to go home. They visit shops encouraging shoppers to observe social
distance, but once police leave, people ignore the distancing. - Bernard
It’s business as usual. People have discovered where they can get
liquor, though at a very high price. The information is shared via
WhatsApp. Smirnoff vodka, usually R120, is R300. Jameson whiskey costs
R550. A pack of cigarettes is R70 or R80 and single cigarettes cost R5
Children are playing in the streets. They still walk in groups to the
IMbalenhle Clinic has a long queue. Patients try some social distancing.
In Pelham people are really complying. There are notices up reminding us
to keep safe and avoid going out. - Nompendulo Ngubane
Before the lockdown was extended, only a few people were complying.
Children were still playing in the streets, people were still gathering
at their usual street corners, taverns were closed but some owners were
still secretly selling alcohol in their houses. But there have been some
changes since the lockdown was extended. The only children in the street
are those going to the shops. There are very few adults in the streets
Many shops were closed, but opened when they got permits.
At the mall, only a certain number of people are allowed in. As people
queue to get into the shops, there is social distancing. There are lines
pasted on the ground one metre apart to show people where to stand in
the queue. People’s hands are sanitised as they get into the mall and
into the shops. Only food shops, pharmacies and banks are open.
But outside the gates of the mall there’s no social distancing. A few
people wear gloves and masks. - Nompumelelo Mahlangu
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