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37 detainees escape from Lindela
6 May 2020, 12:18 PM

At least 37 people are believed to have escaped from the Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Krugersdorp in Gauteng on Sunday evening.

Lindela is the largest facilities for the holding of undocumented migrants awaiting determination of their legal status in South Africa.

Recently the centre has been in the news after reports of overcrowding emerged. Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi dismissed reports as fake.

A video believed to have been filmed over the weekend shows foreign nationals inside an overcrowded facility. It was posted on social media by an organisation calling itself the Black Power Civil Rights Movement, raising concerns over lack of social distancing.

Motsoaledi says regulations are being adhered to at the centre.

He says, “The Department of Health has just been there recently. They actually screened all of them and even sent those who are suspicious for testing, all of them were found to be negative and they were provided with sanitisers and masks.”

South Africa is currently under Level-4 lockdown and the government has asked citizens to continue abiding by the regulations.

Everyone is now expected to wear a mask when they leave home.

Motsoaledi is at centre following the escapes.

He says this was an inside job.

In the video below, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses the issue of the escapees

Below is a graph with Level-4 lockdown regulations:

 

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COVID-19 adding extreme pressure on SANDF budget
6 May 2020, 11:21 AM

The Secretary of the Defence Department Dr Sam Gulube says the deployment of soldiers to assist in combating the spread of COVID-19, has placed their compensation expenditure under extreme pressure.

The department on Tuesday briefed Parliament’s Defence and Military Veterans Committee on its strategic plans, annual performance plan and budget for 2020/21.

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed across the country to assist the police to monitor adherence to national lockdown regulations.

Gulube says every year the budget for employee compensation is cut by R 3billion and the deployment for COVID-19 has made this worse, even though 63 percent of the department’s R156 billion budget goes towards salaries and wages.

The shortfall on cost of employees is now projected to be R2.9 billion and this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Below is a graphic of how to report security forces:

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In April police watchdog IPID investigated 38 cases against police officials across the country for misconduct during the first part of the country’s national lockdown.

The investigations included two deaths in police custody in Limpopo, two deaths in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

More details on SANDF deployment

‘SARS will struggle to meet targets even after country’s economic recovery’
6 May 2020, 10:01 AM

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says it will take a miracle to restore its economic capacity and has warned that revenue collection will continue its downward trajectory because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Edward Kieswetter says that revenue performance will be lower than the February budget announcements, by between 15 and 20%.

This means there will be a revenue collection shortfall of R250 billion in 2020. Kieswetter says even if economic activity in the country is restored, SARS will continue to struggle to meet its revenue targets.

“Economic activity can restore once we open up the economy to allow certain activities to continue. The big thing is once you lose economic capacity, that loss is going to be harder to replace because that is the business that will not come back. Those are the jobs that will not come back. Whilst understandably, we’re trying to contain the spread of the virus, an unintended consequence of that is that we are losing economic capacity,” said Kieswetter.

Three phases

Meanwhile, SARS has divided this year’s tax filing into three phases.

The first phase has already started and will end on the 31st of May 2020, this will be for employers and third party institutions such as banks and insurance companies.

The second phase will start in June and end on August 31, 2020 and will be an auto assessment for tax payers to make sure their records are up to date. Individuals who do not have to be assessed can file early.

The last phase will be from September to January 31, 2021 for employee filing.

SARS expects significantly less tax revenue in 2020:

 

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Government needs to support airlines: experts
6 May 2020, 9:16 AM

Aviation experts say the sector urgently needs government support to prevent more companies from going under after Comair announced that it would go into business rescue.

The company was the latest  in South Africa following the lead of SA Express and South African Airways (SAA) entered into business rescue to safeguard the interests of the company.

The airline says the decision comes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis which has disrupted the implementation of a turnaround plan.

Independent transport economist Dr Joachim Vermooten says, “IATA indicated months ago no scheduled airline even though well capitalised will be able to sustain the financial impact of the grounding orders applied to airlines. It really required the government to come to the party and provide financial assistance otherwise the impact will be greatly felt in the country.

 In the video below, unions head to court over the looming retrenchments at SAA:

Comair reported a half-year loss of  R564 million following the COVID-19 lockdown.

In a statement, Comair Chief Executive Officer says the company faced an unprecedented situation following the lockdown.

Stander says business rescue practitioners will work with management and the board towards resuming operations in accordance with all regulatory requirements.

Customers with existing bookings will be able to re-book flights within 12 months of their departure date at no charge for changes before 1 November.

Last week Public Enterprises Department Acting Director-General Kgathatso Tlhakudi says the government was ready to bring in strategic partners for the sale of non-core assets.

He said despite the current delays, they expect the transition from SAA to the new airline to take place soon.

“South Africa is an end of the world destination, her connections are critical for the tourism industry and for investment. The continent has long distances between its economic hubs and this makes air routes for regional integration important. It is for this reason that a capable national carrier is non-negotiable,” said Tlhakudi.

Below is an infographic tacking the airline’s SAA woes:

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NGOs lament loss of funding due to COVID-19 fight
6 May 2020, 6:55 AM

Thousands of NGOs face the risk of closure if the lack of government funding persists, since billions of rands are being dedicated to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisations which provide crucial support to the government say they have received little to no funding since March 2020 and are concerned about the funding cuts which they say would impact government’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced governments around the world to allocate increased funding to fight the virus, non-governmental and non-profit organisations in South Africa says they’ve been left in the lurch.

More than 220 000 NGOs in the country have for decades been supporting government to treat and manage illnesses and offer psycho-social support to victims.  From testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, to offering counselling for depression and shelters for abused victims.

However, now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, government funding that ensures their daily operations has been cut drastically.

Director of the Muslim Aids Programme (MAP) Suraiya Nawab says, “We are best placed as NGOs to go into communities for COVID-19 to do screening. For MAP, there are 30 staff members that are out of jobs, and 30 staff members that are well trained to do COVID-19 testing. There is a big problem about stigma with COVID-19, very much like HIV. Between the 28 organisations, we have a footprint in the 9 provinces. I’m very disappointed, we could go in and fast track the screening process. They are not getting the awareness about COVID-19 and the added risk that HIV places.”

Blow for HIV sufferers

The blow to funding has also resulted in many HIV sufferers defaulting on treatment and thereby increasing the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Zakheni Training and Development Center which operates in three provinces providing HIV management processes in underprivileged communities in South Africa says 85 jobs at the centre are on the line.

Zakheni Executive Director Kawepano Mbale says, “We are really struggling as a local organisation to provide healthcare. We also look at about 85 employment opportunities at stake in the 3 provinces. We also talking about sustaining and paying remuneration for our staff that have worked so dearly to skill and develop. They are just sitting, not doing anything. Above all, we cannot pay rent, debit orders cannot go through…”

“Our people are currently defaulting on HIV treatment. Those organisations that were previously funded, can no longer continue their services so you can see the impact,” says Mbale.

Open letter

The NGOs have written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa asking for his intervention.

Smile Foundation CEO Hedly Lewis says, “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa, we heeded the call by our president to step up. Obviously the needs that the NPOs were addressing prior to COVID-19 have not disappeared. Civil society has gone through some very tough times obviously because budgets have been cut and economic times in our country. Hence the call to the presidency to assist us with stabilising this sector…”

“During COVID-19, we have seen NGOs assist with feeding, psychological support, assisting the government with rallying the public for PPE equipment, doctors, nurses and heroes that are on the front line,” added lewis.

Meanwhile, in a written response the Department of Social Development says since the announcement of the COVID-19 Pandemic lockdown, some services were closed and these included; Early Childhood Developments, Drop in Centres, Home Community based care centres and community Development Centres to mention a few…

 

 

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Author-Prabashini Moodley 

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