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Hospital
Over 100 people test positive for COVID-19 at a North West hospital
20 June 2020, 9:10 PM

One hundred patients and 23 staff members at the Witrand Hospital in Potchefstroom, in the North West, have tested positive for coronavirus. The hospital looks after patients with mental and physical disabilities.

North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha says the infection started with two patients in ward three and four. This is the first hospital in the province to record such an alarming number of coronavirus infections.

“Samples were then taken. This was prompted by the nature of patients inability to maintain social distancing and wearing masks,” says Sambatha.

The MEC says family members of those affected are being informed. Extra hospital beds are being made available to accommodate those that are ill.

“We are already making arrangements of 55 beds for isolation ward, which will be prepared for supply of oxygen as a matter of urgency. This is in case we were to need oxygen supply for any of the patients. For patients to be transferred to other facilities like Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Tshepong and Westval, that clinical committee will decide which patient need to be taken out,” explains Sambatha.

Some health labour unions have called for the closure of the hospital until it safe for both patients and staff to return.

Below are the latest nationwide statistics of COVID-19 infections in SA:

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Tensions simmer over PPEs

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in the province is concerned about the safety of its members. The union says its members are being threatened with disciplinary action when raising matters pertaining to a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).    

“Some of the issues if we are dealing with them the way the management is dealing with them, they are coming up with an issue of suspending our people when they verbalise this thing. This is the situation we faced with,” says Kedibone Mdolo, who is the Acting Secretary of DENOSA.

Sambatha has requested those that claim they have been victimised to approach the department for investigation.

“So the issue of the PPE and victimisation let me secretly be told who was victimised. I am going to visit that facility unannounced because they argue about PPE and I am going to get one victimising others. It is not our design that people do not have PPE. We want health professionals to be safe,” says Sambatha.

The department says the 23 employees who have contracted COVID-19 are under the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Below is a provincial breakdown of COVID-19 infections in SA:

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Mining company
Youngsters march from Soweto to Stellenbosch to highlight plight of mining communities
20 June 2020, 8:14 PM

A group of young people have begun a long walk, protesting against the hardships faced by mining communities. They started their gruelling march on Tuesday from Soweto and are heading to Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, where – they say – the captains of the mining industry reside.

At the heart of the battle are mineral resources, education and economic freedom. Part of the plan of the more than 1 000 kilometre march is to pass through mining towns. Mining companies are urged to develop the communities in which they extract minerals.

“44 years later people in South Africa do not find themselves in the position they should be. We are landless, we are destitute, unemployed, drug addicts, drop-outs and face academic exclusions,” says Zukiswa White, who is part of the movement.

The South African Destitute Ex-Miners Forum has joined the campaign. The organisation represent ex-miners and their families.

“Universities that were founded by mines are excluding Black students who cannot afford to pay fees. That is why today we included students,” says Mangaliso Sambo, the General Secretary of the forum.

“As children of miners we are still marginalised, we are not benefitting from mineral resources. Mineral resources should be shared among those who benefit,” says Student Activist, Siyabonga Mahlangu.

The group is expected to arrive at Stellenbosch next weekend.

Matrics
Mixed reactions from Gauteng matric class of 2020 over schools’ reopening
20 June 2020, 7:36 PM

Two weeks since the return of matrics to school the class of 2020 has mixed feelings about the final exams. Schools in Gauteng have been left to craft their own catch-up plans. Schools recorded different teaching experiences during the lockdown.

For thousands of matriculants across the country, it is a race against time. The majority are making up for lost tuition time. At Sutherland High School in Tshwane, online learning has helped matriculants to be up to speed with the curriculum.

“Our teachers have been keeping tabs on things online but also the curriculum has been trimmed down. But our biggest challenge will be getting learners who have not had access to online up to speed with everyone else,” says Peter Stone, who is the school principal.

“During the lockdown I studied  nine hours a day, it was like work for me,” says one learner from Sutherland High.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing in some schools. Mahlenga is a village in Gauteng. Matric learners at the village’s only high school had to put in more hours to catch up with their city peers.

“We are having Saturday classes where they are expected to come in. The teacher who stays locally have also requested that their students also come in on Sunday until eleven o clock,” explains Mahlenga Secondary School Principal, Zanele Jiyana.

At Dan Kutumela Secondary school, classrooms have been converted into weekend learning centres. Citing internet connectivity challenges during the lockdown, most of the learners at the school are happy to be back behind their desks.

Final matric exams are expected to be written in November.

In  the video below, matrics react to the re-opening of schools:

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Bishops of Catholic Church
SACBC laments exclusion of refugees in world’s response to socio-economic needs of citizens
20 June 2020, 6:12 PM

The Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) says it is saddened and disheartened by the way many governments have, in their response to the socio-economic needs of their people, excluded refugees and asylum seekers.

The Bishops say the COVID-19 pandemic has effected the entire world bringing proceedings to a stand still, exposed many inequalities, injustice and “our broken humanity”.

“As Catholic Bishops, we are concerned about their well-being and implore host countries not to exclude them when responding to the socio-economic needs, especially of the vulnerable during this time. We particularly ask the human family to exercise the four verbs of Welcoming, Protecting, Promoting and Integrating them as we have been encouraged by Pope Francis,” SACBC says in a statement.

“On this WRD it’s important to equally remind ourselves of the endless wars, persecutions and violations of human rights that have forced many to leave their homes and countries, in search of protection and safety,” the statement continues.

According to the UN Refugee Agency’s annual report, 80 million people are currently living as refugees or as internally displaced persons, most of whom live in deplorable conditions.

Today is World Refugee Day and the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Botswana, South Africa and Eswatini together with the United Nations (UN) say they celebrated the day by conducting a prayer for the well being of the refugees and protection over the world.

This year’s World Refugee Day theme is “ Everyone can make a difference. Every action counts.”

In the video below, SABC News takes a look at the plight foreign nationals living in Cape Town:

Call for International Refugees Protection Regime

The United Nations has called for the re-establishment of the integrity of the International Refugees Protection Regime, to support refugees and host communities.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grande says the coronavirus pandemic has the potential to exacerbate the displacement of people across the globe, forcing them to flee their homes.

The pandemic, that began in China late last year, has infected more than 8.7 million people globally and claimed more than 463 000 lives. The number of recoveries is over 4.6 million.

Grande says citizens of war-torn and poor countries may flee as there are inadequate safety protocols in place to stem of the spread of the virus.

“The livelihood crisis I don’t know if that term is clear the poverty the increased poverty of these populations in my opinion coupled with lack of solution, perpetuation of conflict and in situations like the Sahel, deterioration of security, in my opinion there is no doubt that it will increase population movements in the regions but also beyond Europe for example.”

In the video below, the UN calls for end of crises that drive “appalling” displacements numbers:

Call for decisive leadership

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is calling on the African Union to show decisive leadership in ending conflict and instability on the continent. The party says restoring peace in conflicted zones will assist the plight of refugees.

The EFF is calling for the political and economic stability in South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Libya and other regions in Africa experiencing instability due to conflict.

Six million Africans are displaced due to violence and even climate change impact. The South African opposition party says Africa’s development is dependent on peace and integration.

The EFF says that Africans can’t be considered foreigners while in an African country. It encourages tolerance and support for those who have fled their homes in fear of their lives.

The EFF’s call also asks of all countries to extend humanitarian aid and internationalism by supporting refugees. – Additional reporting by Noma Bolani

Home Affairs
Mozambican refugees demand unblocking of their IDs
20 June 2020, 6:03 PM

Former Mozambican civil war refugees in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, say they have no reason to celebrate World Refugee Day, which is being commemorated today. The group says life has been tough after their Identity Documents (ID) were blocked by the government.

“It has destroyed my planning for my future, I can’t open bank accounts to invest for my future or to plan for my way forward. It has destroyed my chance as a South African, its like I don’t belong in South Africa. I don’t know anyone in Mozambique where. All my family is here, I have nowhere to go if South Africa blocks my ID. I don’t understand,” says Edward Ndlovu, who is worried about his future after his ID was blocked by Home Affairs two years ago.

The 45-year old arrived in the country with his parents from Mozambique in 1989. The family settled in Bushbuckridge where he attended school. He was able to get an ID and life continued as normal until it was blocked in 2018.

Ndlovu says his life literally came to a standstill. He says his father suffered the same fate as his ID was also blocked.

A Grade 12 learner Lungile Mambane, who was born in Bushbuckridge, says she has the same problem. Her father has since died and the step-mother has left.

“They tell me that I must find my other mom so that I can make my ID. I am worried because I cant write my exam without my ID and when I go to university I must find my ID.”

In the video below, is a television news report on the plight of Mozambican civil war refugees:

Non-profit organisation, Mahlo ya Rixaka, says the area has thousands of families whose Identity Documents (IDs) were blocked.

The group settled in the then Gazankulu Homeland after being displaced by the civil war in Mozambique in the late 80s. Occupying Bushbuckridge from Ximungwe through to Limpopo, they were settled legally by local traditional leaders and the government.

Spokesperson of the NGO Mahlo ya Rixaka, Hamilton Thobakgale, says in the Bushbuckridge alone – there are over 5 000 people affected by the ID saga.

“IDs were allocated to several groups of these people and when these ID’s where allocated, remember in this country we have laws, our law says if you in a country for certain years and after some years you become a citizen. The IDs were given out and had a 1,8 number these ID should have been converted to a South African citizen,” he says.

The group is calling on the South African government to reinstate the identity documents.

“We have children that we cannot get birth certificates for after matric they cannot proceed with their studies. There are people who are running businesses and cannot access their money in banks because they are frozen due to the ID blockade. Can the government respect its own laws,” says Thobakgale.

The refugees say they obtained a court order last year that directs the Department of Home Affairs to legalise their IDs, but the department hasn’t done this.

 

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