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148 arrested for flouting lockdown regulations in Gauteng
29 March 2020, 10:13 PM

Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela says so far 148 people have been arrested and another 25 people issued with warnings for flouting the lockdown regulations in the province.

Gauteng has registered the most number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 584.

The total number of infections in South Africa is at 1 280, with two deaths.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to assist police during the lockdown and ensure adherence. However,  Mawela says there are still those who continue to disobey the law.

“We are going to apply zero tolerance to those people who are disregarding the regulations. Those people who continue to trade in liquor, those who continue to participate in social gatherings, street bashes, chisa nyamas. We want to call upon them to say please let them respect and recognise the regulations and abide with those, ” says Mawela.

Ntsiki Mazwai
Social media split over Mazwai’s letter to President Ramaphosa
29 March 2020, 7:51 PM

Poet and social commentator Ntsiki Mazwai divided social media this weekend over her “open letter” to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The letter published on her social media accounts, questions whether President Ramaphosa thoroughly considered the socioeconomic reality of poor South Africans before declaring a 21-day countrywide lockdown due to the to rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Mazwai accuses President Ramaphosa of having taken the decision from a place of privilege, to the detriment of the poor majority.

She also raises concerns that only big retailers will benefit from the lockdown.

Below is the letter in an audio form, recorded by Mazwai, which she divided into three parts.

 

In the  second clip, Mazwai questions the deployment of SANDF in townships.

“Mr president you have let loose of untrained army to go and play power games in the township. I’m yet to see the army terrorising the elite in suburban.”

 

The letter has divided social media users, with some people claiming that Mazwai only points out problems but offer no solutions, while others support her utterances and say it is government’s responsibility to provide solutions not Mazwai.

The poet’s father, former journalist and anti-apartheid activist Dr Thami Mazwai, distanced himself and his wife from the letter.

Expressing shock and disappointment, Mazwai senior hailed President Ramaphosa, the Cabinet and civil servants for their efforts to save South Africans from the pandemic.

The Presidency has not responded to the letter.

Ramaphosa will no longer address the nation on Sunday, meeting continues
22 March 2020, 7:38 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa will no longer be addressing the nation as earlier reported. This was announced by Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria where Ramaphosa is locked in a meeting with the National Command Council on the coronavirus situation in South Africa.

Discussions at the meeting at the Union Buildings in Pretoria relate to progress made in the implementation of regulations to curb the disease, whether additional measures are required and possible interventions to mitigate the economic fallout.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu, “We would like to see whether the measures we have put in place are really assisting us and there are suggestions that … are being discussed by the National Command Council. We are still continuing with the discussions. We are not sure when at what time the meeting will be concluded at this stage.”

In the video, Jackson Mthembu addresses the media outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria:

Since the meeting is expected to drag until very late on Sunday night, the president is expected to only address the nation on Monday.

Earlier, the president met with business leaders to discuss ways to economically get through the crisis that has befallen the entire world.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says business has contributed excellent ideas and proposals to government with regards to mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

Representatives of business organisations including Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) , Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), the Banking Association and large insurance companies met with President  Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings. The engagement was aimed at ensuring that a consolidated economic plan takes into account the business sector’s recommendations.

Patel says the details will be announced during the President’s address tot the nation later today.

“We gave a report on the work that government is doing work; that we are doing in monitoring the impact of the global slowdown in our own economy because we sell goods to other parts of the world. We shared with the business community also the work we are doing to ensure basic stocks of health products in South Africa, that there are food and other stocks to our people. We provided information on competition exemptions and price regulations that have been published that have been published in the last number of days. We also talked about what we can do to protect vulnerable enterprise particularly small businesses.”

In the video below, political parties and business communities pledge support to government:

Earlier in the week there were reports that the president would announce a State of Emergency and complete lockdown which would ban inter-provincial travelling. However, President Ramaphosa’s Spokesperson Khusela Diko says there is no truth in rumours going around that government will announce a total lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a tweet, Diko cautioned South Africans against spreading fake news.

The last time President Ramaphosa addressed the nation was last week Sunday when he announced a raft of measures to try and contain the spread of the COVID-19 in South Africa, including a national state of disaster.

There are 240 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa and more than 1000 on the continent. According to the latest global figures the virus has now claimed 13 783 lives with more than 322 000 people infected.

Below is the timeline of the coronavirus in South Africa:

John Steenhuisen
Political parties react to cancellation of Human Rights Day celebrations
20 March 2020, 8:45 PM

The National Human Rights Day is commemorated on 21 March each year to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre on this day in 1960. But this year there will be no event to commemorate the day.

The Congress of the People (COPE) says that it would not have celebrated Human Rights Day even if there was no COVID-19 pandemic. All mass rallies scheduled for Saturday have been cancelled due to the ban on gatherings of groups greater than a 100 people.

“Thousands of people are sitting without water toilets, proper streets, unemployment, not having food to eat, going to bed on a hungry stomach. Our healthcare facilities have collapsed. How can we celebrate this day when corruption is the order of the day in South Africa,” says COPE Spokesperson, Dennis Bloem.

SABC News reporter, Nhlanhla Kgatlane, reports that Human Rights Day  has been cancelled as big public gatherings are cancelled in line with the state of national disaster declared on Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic:

 

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says although Human Rights Day won’t be celebrated publicly tomorrow, it offers South Africans the opportunity to reflect on their rights to be protected in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What it’s going to require on this Human Rights Day is the best of all South Africans to come together. Protecting and defending those rights is going to be difficult. They are going to have to be curtailed in the face of this virus if we are going to contain it and so, while some of the measures that the government is putting in place may seem draconian when one looks at the experience of other countries in combatting it, they are absolutely necessary.”

 

Corona-p
New York City leads with 4 000 COVID-19 cases in US
20 March 2020, 7:16 PM

New York City has become the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States with the Mayor confirming over 4000 cases as the number nationwide surges passed 13500. Weary markets are tentatively waiting for further direction from the Federal Government as Senate negotiations move into high gear on Capitol Hill where lawmakers hope to reach agreement on a 1 trillion dollar economic stabilization package to undergird the economy.

This, as the United Nations Secretary General warned that a global recession was a near certainty while urging wealthier nations to support the most vulnerable through this crisis, particularly health systems in Africa.

While residents have been urged to shelter in place, the State’s Governor has not formally imposed the rule. With dire warnings from the city’s Mayor Bill De Blasio that they’re not getting what they need from the Federal Government, as medical supplies dwindle.

“Here are the supplies that must be provided to New York City early in April for us to ensure that our health care system, public and private, can bear the brunt of the coronavirus crisis and serve our people. We need 3 million N95 masks. We need 50 million surgical masks. We need 15 000 ventilators. 25 million each of the following items of personal protective equipment, which our health care workers and first responders would use depending on the situation: surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves, face masks. We need these in great numbers.”

De Blasio  has called for the army to be deployed to increase healthcare capacity and beds in the city, while on the west coast in the country’s most populous state California, a statewide stay at home order is now in place as Governor Gavin Newsom explained.

“The virus will affect about 56 % of us. You do the math in the state of California and that’s a particularly large number. That number in and of itself shouldn’t be overly alarming. The vast majority, the overwhelming majority of us won’t have symptoms, we’ll be perfectly fine.”

That’s about 25 million people who could get infected in one state alone. As the Federal Government’s drug administration now moves to test new therapies in the absence of a vaccine that is still at least 12 months away. Listen to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn.

“In the short term, we’re looking at drugs that are already approved for other indications. So, they’re already approved, as the president said, for other diseases. As an example, many Americans have read studies and heard media reports about this drug, chloroquine, which is an anti-malarial drug. It’s already approved, as the president said, for the treatment of malaria, as well as an arthritis condition. That’s a drug that the president has directed us to take a closer look at as to whether an expanded use approach to that could be done to actually see if that benefits patients.”

More broadly, the UN Chief Antonio Guterres indicated a global recession “is a near certainty” and that current national responses to the coronavirus pandemic would not address the global scale and complexity of the crisis, particularly in vulnerable regions of the world.

“My very strong appeal to the G20 is to have a particular concern with African countries and other countries in the developing world. We must absolutely be strong in supporting them because the virus is coming to them and their health systems are extremely weak. So, they need very strong support from the developed world and if that support is denied, we will have catastrophic consequences. If the virus is not contained because countries don’t have the capacity to contain it, it can spread like wild fire as I mentioned and we could have, even with low rates of mortality, we could have millions of people dying and this is absolutely unacceptable.”

As the global caseload reached 250 000 with more than 10 000 dead. The United States likely to exceed 200 deaths on Friday.

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