In March, in the first 10 days of a curfew to curb the coronavirus, at least six people were killed, according to rights group Human Rights Watch.
Safety compliant ECD centres can open immediately: Court
6 July 2020, 12:29 PM
Private nursery schools that comply with COVID-19 safety measures can open immediately, the High Court in Pretoria ruled on Monday.
Trade union Solidarity had taken the case to court and was supported by the SA Childcare Association, which joined the fight as Friends of the Court.
In a statement, the association says its move was not only based on legal opinion but on the belief that there is enough evidence that the reopening of ECD centres doesn’t present a medically unreasonable risk in the midst of the pandemic.
“This opinion appears to be shared by the Minister of Basic Education, who has allowed for the re-opening of Grade R facilities. The only provision is that the standard COVID-19 operating measures that have already been published be adhered to.”
She also said that schools that were not ready to welcome Grade R learners should only reopen when all safety protocols are put in place.
Motshekga is visiting a few schools in Midrand, north of Johannesburg, to monitor their adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Basic Education spokesperson Hope Mokgathle says the Minister will be making sure that schools have all the equipment as reported.
“She will be doing an oversight visit to three schools in Midrand, these are Midrand Primary School, Noordwyk Secondary and David Makhubo Secondary School. The three schools are in and around Midrand. Basically, what she will be doing there is to oversee and monitor if the schools are following the COVID-19 protocols as prescribed to ensure things like social distancing and make sure that schools have all the equipment as reported.”
In the video below, Motshekga updates the nation on schools:
‘Make health and safety of learners a priority’
Meanwhile, South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) has called on Motshekga to make the health and safety of learners her department’s top priority.
SADTU’s secretary-general Mugwena Maluleke believes the phasing-in of only three Grades, R, six and 11 is an indication that the department is not ready to receive learners at schools.
“Our submission to the Minister had been to study the rising in numbers of the infections in the communities and the delay in phasing in other grades. However, we note that Grades six and 11 will then be phased in. Our position remains that any school that is not in terms of the safety and health precaution should not risk receiving the learners.”
Death toll in Ethiopian protests after killing of singer jumps to 156
5 July 2020, 6:29 PM
The number of people killed in protests in Ethiopia following the slaying of a popular singer has jumped to 156 from the initial tally of 80, a senior regional security official told Reuters on Sunday.
The protests were sparked by the assassination of musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa on Monday night and spread from Addis Ababa to the surrounding Oromia region.
Head of the Oromia Security and Peace Bureau, Jibril Mohammed, said the 156 are those who died just in the Oromia region, which was the worst hit by the protests. He said more deaths might be reported due to the number of injuries being treated in hospitals.
Some 145 of the casualties are civilians while 11 are security personnel, he added.
Fort Hare students picket over ‘lack of plan to salvage 2020 academic year’
4 July 2020, 10:04 PM
Student bodies at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape have accused management of having no plan in place to salvage the 2020 academic year. South African Students Congress (SASCO), the EFF Student Command, COPE and others called on students to picket over this as well as the alleged lack of classes for online teaching.
University students across the country have been learning online since the nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the hashtag save UFH Academic Year, the student leaders held a picket at the university on Friday, calling for students to join in on social media and on the East London and Alice campuses whilst observing lockdown regulations. The student activists say they have been patient with management while their complaints have not been attended to.
The students allege that they have not been provided with data or laptops and have not had online classes. In June, senior management and the Student Representative Council at the institution returned for an inspection of facilities while, in a letter to students and staff, the university says data has been provided for some students while the delivery of laptops is expected in the first week of this month.
Students have threatened to go back to their residence while calling on Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to intervene.
Walter Sisulu University students are also expressing concern that they’re losing this academic year because of the lockdown.
SRC member at WSU Sipho Sizani says: “ The only issue we are crying about as the SRC was the issue of non-funded students who were going to be left behind in the process of online learning. Now they have committed to assist that group of students. Even us as SRC we will use our budget to assist that group of students where we can.”
While the University of Fort Hare declined to comment, Walter Sisulu University spokesperson, Yonela Tukwayo says they are doing their all they can to salvage the year.
“As WSU we have escalated our laptop distribution to the students as well as the distribution of data so that students can continue with online learning. We did have some challenges in acquiring laptops as you can imagine other institutions want them as well and we have a huge number of students that are funded by NSFAS and we need to distribute all those laptops to them.”
Malawi’s election cheer dampened by coronavirus surge
4 July 2020, 8:01 PM
Malawi’s new President Lazarus Chakwera on Saturday ordered his inauguration ceremony be scaled down amid a surge of coronavirus cases, dampening excitement around his election win. Chakwera was sworn in last Sunday for a five-year term, hours after unseating Peter Mutharika in a re-run election, and this Monday the country is holding a formal celebration.
Chakwera said capacity at the national stadium would be halved to 20 000 and at least 100 000 face masks would be distributed in the capital Lilongwe. “We’re in a worse situation today than we were three months ago. Coronavirus is spreading everywhere in Malawi and it’s spreading to kill,” he said in a televised address.
COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the past two weeks to reach nearly 1 500, with 16 deaths. Opposition politicians and activists had criticised Mutharika’s response to the pandemic, calling it inadequate and aimed keeping him in power.
In April the High Court struck down Mutharika’s order of 21-day lockdown after a petition from a human rights organisation. However Chakwera indicated restrictions on movement were imminent, saying new measures would be announced on Tuesday when he appointed a new health minister.
“Community transmission has escalated in the last three weeks,” he said. “However, we must strike a balance between public safety and social functioning of our country.” Chakwera’s win in last month’s re-run election was a dramatic reversal of the result of the original election in May 2019, which courts had later overturned citing irregularities.
In the video below, Malawi’s new President promises to serve the people: