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Zuma’s lawyer pokes holes in leaked letter
26 May 2020, 1:00 PM

Former President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers say the alleged communication between the National Prosecuting Authority and KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Achmat Jappie is an attempt to manipulate the composition of the bench that will preside over Zuma’s corruption trial.

This follows a leaked letter purported to have been written by the Deputy-Director of Public Prosecutions, Billy Downer to Jappie.

Zuma and his co-accused French arms company Thales face 16 charges relating to fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

The letter requests that Zuma’s trial starts next year, adding that it will not be prudent to start the trial now due to challenges around the coronavirus.

The letter also says it remains uncertain if a Thales representative will be able to travel from France to attend the trial under the lockdown.

Zuma’s legal team has registered their concern about the communication between the State and the KZN Judge President without their knowledge or involvement.

Mabuza questioned why the courts entered into a discussion with the state without informing him and requests that the trial commence as soon as possible.

Supporters vow to support Zuma

During a court appearance last year, Zuma loyalists vowed to support him until the end.

 

 

Western Cape Premier decries backlog in COVID-19 test processing
26 May 2020, 12:35 PM

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde says he’s concerned about a huge backlog in the processing of tests for COVID-19 in the province, which affects the rate at which results can be released.

Winde says there’s been a 400% increase in the number of tests conducted in the province since the end of last month.

The National Department of Health confirmed a sharp increase in the COVID-19 death toll after 52 fatalities were recorded on Monday, the highest in 24 hours, and 49 of the latest deaths were recorded in the Western Cape.

Winde says the province has a backlog of almost 18 000 tests which needs to be processed.

“We still have an issue with the backlog in our tests which is very difficult because testing is your ability to measure and gives your ability to manage. We have already engaged and written to the President and engaged with the Minister of Health on this issue. Our backlog now stand at 18 000 and we really need find a solution to this. If you cannot measure, you cannot manage.”

Move to level 3 lockdown supported despite challenges

Winde says the delays are due to a shortage of reagents and test kits, a problem which is being experienced globally.

He says in the absence of rapid tests solutions, the decision has been to prioritise health workers and those at high risk of contracting the coronavirus, such as the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.

Despite these challenges, Winde says he supports the decision by the President to move the country, including the Western Cape, to level 3 lockdown, as he explains in the video below:

Cape Town ICC being turned into quarantine site

On Tuesday morning, Winde visited the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) to see the progress made in turning it into a quarantine site for COVID-19 infected patients.

The facility will have 862 beds.

Contractors have been on site for just over two weeks and the quarantine site is expected to open on June 8.

Winde says the CTICC is being used to ensure that there are enough beds for patients during the most critical period of the outbreak.

INFOGRAPHIC: What will be permitted during level 3 lockdown

INFOGRAPHIC: Level 3 restrictions

-Graphics by Matiba Sibanyoni

The Public Service Accountability Monitor says reopening of E Cape schools is not feasible
20 May 2020, 1:01 PM

Makhanda-based government watchdog, the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), says it might not be feasible for the Eastern Cape to reopen all schools given the magnitude of challenges facing the Education Department in the province.

On Tuesday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that grade 7 and 12 learners would be going back to school on June 1.

The announcement has been met with mixed reactions, with teacher unions citing concerns over the sanitation of schools and the safety of children.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude, has urged the Education Department to prioritise the safety of learners and teachers.

Education Researcher at PSAM Siyabulela Fobosi says the province needs more time to put in place all the necessary preventative measures.

“There are about 931 schools that do not have water tanks in the province. Social distancing will be impossible at some of the schools, especially those that do not have enough classrooms. Those things would be virtually impossible at schools in rural areas. Before schools reopen, the Department together with Legislature should ensure that everything is in order, not only your urban areas, because I can imagine it’s only in urban areas where schools will be ready, especially your independent schools,” says Fobosi.

The Infographic below highlights safety measures when schools reopen on June 1:

Rural schools facing challenges

Learners who attend schools in rural areas across the country face challenges, as they do not have access to resources for learning at home.

Online learning is one such challenge, as learners do not have laptops or data to catch up with their school work.

One of the schools at a disadvantage is AG Malebe Secondary at Springbokpan in the North West.

Even if there was network coverage, data and devices are too expensive, as outlined in the video below:

-Additional reporting by SABC News.

Business Rescue Practitioners say Comair can possibly be rescued
20 May 2020, 11:37 AM

The Business Rescue Practitioners for embattled Comair, Shaun Collyer and Richard Ferguson, believe there are prospects for the airliner to be rescued.

The practitioners met with creditors and employees to discuss the future of the airline. This after the company entered into business rescue on May 5.

Comair reported a half-year loss of R564-million for the first quarter of 2020. This included R790-million that was unrecoverable after South African Airways entered into business rescue in early December 2019.

Collyer and Ferguson say the airline is not factually insolvent as it has over R7-billion in assets on its balance sheet, compared to their liabilities.

They believe the airlines assets exceed liabilities and hence the airline is well placed; having enjoyed a 3% market share for domestic travel.

The practitioners say the successful rescue of Comair’s business would depend on the support of all stakeholders, and this would include post-commencement finance.

Calls for government to support airlines

Following Comair’s announcement to go into business rescue, aviation experts say the aviation sector urgently needs government support to prevent more companies from suffering.

The aviation industry has taken a hard knock since the outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

South African Express and South African Airways (SAA) also entered into business rescue in a bid to safeguard the interests of the company.

Chief Executive Officer of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa, Chris Zweigenthal, says airliners in the country have taken a hard financial knock since the lockdown started…

-Additional reporting by SABC News.

 

Mahikeng hospital maternity unit staff down tools after a doctor tests positive for COVID-19
13 May 2020, 12:18 PM

The Medical staff at the Mahikeng Provincial Hospital Maternity Unit in the North West province has downed tools.

Workers are crying foul over being forced to continue working after a doctor in the unit tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

Workers say only seven staff members were tested, while others were told to continue working.

They say hospital management told them they will disinfect the ward in the presence of the staff on shift and patients on Wednesday.

Workers say this may put their lives and those of patients at risk.

Plight of health workers

Many health workers across the globe have decried unsafe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As the world observed International Nurses Day on Tuesday, health workers from different facilities in South Africa embarked on protests.

Staff at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in the Eastern Cape downed tools complaining about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

But, COVID-19 is not the only danger nurses face as they treat millions of people every year for a myriad of diseases.

In the video below, nurses raise their concerns about their working conditions:

In the United States, New York’s frontline health workers took to social media to share their work-related frustrations.

They say they are completely overwhelmed by the number of patients due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the city:

-Additional reporting by SABC News 

 

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