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Taxi
Mbalula calls for cancellation of planned Gauteng taxi strike
21 June 2020, 6:10 PM

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has appealed to the taxi industry to call off Monday’s planned Gauteng strike in response to government’s coronavirus relief support for taxi owners. Mbalula says government cannot go beyond its offer of R1.1 billion.

The organisation wants government to increase the relief package to R10 billion.

SANTACO says government’s package won’t be sufficient for the entire taxi industry.

“Top Six will be shutting down operations as from Monday. We felt very strong that the R1.1 is a slap in our face. We are shutting down Joburf as planned before. We are shutting down everything. We are also negotiating with our counterpart’s santaco that we need to close every rank. The minister is not doing justice,” Top Six Spokesperson, George Molekwa, has said.

In a statement, government is describing SANTACO Gauteng’s decision as unfortunate and counterproductive.

“Resorting to shutting down services as an expression of disagreement with the quantum of the amount the government is offering the industry as relief support, does nothing for the industry. A service shutdown will not only negatively affect the working class, but will worsen the devastation of the industry.  The taxi industry is in the process of recovery from the combined impact of limited operating hours and reduced loading capacity as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,” reads the statement.

In the video below, Mbalula announces relief for the taxi industry:

Government says arriving at a decision to give the industry relief support wasn’t easy.

“We literally had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to reach this amount, because we believe the taxi industry is deserving of support as the largest mover of our people.  We must equally appreciate that government has limited resources, which must equally benefit all other sectors.  It is for this reason that none of the relief packages equate to compensation for losses, but rather limited support to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The reality is that there is no more money available beyond what the government has offered,” it says.

Provincial transport MECs, Executive Mayors of Ethekwini and Ekurhuleni and MMCs from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City Metros held talks on Sunday to discuss this.

Minister Mbalula explains government’s quagmire in the audio below:

Eastern Cape won’t go on strike

SANTACO in the Eastern Cape has confirmed that it is not part of Monday’s strike. The provincial wing says there are negotiations that will be held between their association and the national department of transport, which are going to give an indication on whether or not the Eastern Cape province will follow suit. The association says it will embark on a two-week strike should it deem fit.

“SANTACO in the Eastern Cape is not part of the Gauteng strike. The strike that is coming tomorrow will be for the Gauteng province only however we anticipate our own strike which is very much pending on the outcomes of the meeting that are held between the national office and the national department of transport. You will remember that the least paid driver is getting R 4 000 per month so taking R4 000 from R 5 000, you are left with R1 000, which is also not enough for the tax that we are expected to pay from the very same amount not to mention our other costs so it is not enough,”  says  Lungiswa Mabhija, who is SANTACO provincial chairperson.

Taxis have had a 30% reduction in the loading passenger capacity due to COVID-19 lockdown rules. The prohibition of inter-provincial travel, closure of borders and restricted operation times have had a devastating impact on the industry.

On Friday, the government announced that SA Taxi Finance will put a moratorium in place on vehicle repossessions and also extend their initial one-month repayment holiday by a further two months. The move is part of government’s efforts to support the industry, which ensures that millions of South African reach their destination every day. – Additional reporting by Xolani Sitshinga

 

Nomagugu Simelane- Zului
KZN Health MEC urges COVID-19 patients not to refuse hospitalisation
21 June 2020, 4:23 PM

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has urged people not to refuse to be hospitalised if they have tested positive for coronavirus. This follows a death of a woman from respiratory problems after refusing to be hospitalised. The province is the fourth in the country with a high number of cases.

KwaZulu-Natal currently has 83 COVID-19 deaths.

Simelane-Zulu says some of the fatalities are unnecessary because people insist on self-isolating at home where there is no health practitioner. She is urging South Africans to listen to their health practitioners’ advice.

“The reason we think we need to make this call is that in the past couple of days we’ve had a few fatalities that were not necessary purely on the basis that people did not allow themselves to be hospitalised. The latest death was this morning of a lady who both herself and her husband were found to be positive a few days back and they insisted of self-isolation and she began respiratory problems yesterday and she woke up this morning and started having challenges and she passed on now that is a death that is unnecessary,” says Simelane-Zulu.

Below is a provincial breakdown of COVID-19 cases in South Africa:

 

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According to KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Sihle Zikalala, the province has recorded 1 043 new cases in the last seven days with 258 cases reported on Saturday. Addressing the media on the latest developments, Zikalala says there have been sporadic cases of COVID-19 infections reported daily from districts that earlier had no infections. There have been three new deaths in Ethekwini District, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zikalala says although the provincial epidemic curve is still flatter compared to other provinces, there has been a spike of new cases.

“eThekwini recorded 57 new cases and it was followed by Umgungundlovu and Ilembe district. Ethekwini and Ilembe district continue to contribute 75% of the total cases provincially and to specific both of them are contributing 3 581. However lately in the past 10 days Umgungundlovu district has reported more cases than Ilembe on a daily basis,” says Zikalala.

On the reopening of economic sectors like the tourism and hospitality industries, Zikalala says these industries will be allowed to operate under strict regulations.

“Just to illustrate this by way of example each customer must be served using a clean towel not having being used by the previous customer, the PPEs used must be changed after treating each customer, water for hand washing must be served sanitisation wearing of masks all of that must be compulsory so there is a need for constant cleaning of equipment encouraging pre-bookings and not allowing many people inside the premises,” says Zikalala.

Below is President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on the reopening of salons and cinemas: 

 

Zikalala has reiterated that no parents will be forced to take their children to school. However, he says, the school year will continue for those who do attend.

“We are in a time of uncertainty and therefore we will not bulldoze and undermine the fears of the people. What we are not going to do is allow this academic year to collapse. We will strive by all means to ensure that those kids who are ready to go to school are supported and they complete this academic year.”

Zikalala says authorities are concerned about those who are taking advantage of the situation to commit corruption and they will be investigated.

Below is the KZN media briefing:

Patients
Recovered PE COVID-19 patients complain of stigma
21 June 2020, 3:39 PM

Residents of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape, who have fully recovered from COVID-19 say they are being unfairly targeted for having contracted the virus. The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has been declared a hotspot and recovered patients allege their lives are made difficult by the ignorance of some people.

Recovered COVID 19  patients like Vuyelwa Manana claim people around them are now afraid of them.

“Life has now become very painful. I have shown my managers proof that I have fully recovered from this virus, but it is sad that my colleagues have become very scared of me. Sometimes when I walk through the corridor, past someone, they will immediately put on their mask, even if they were not wearing it before, or try and walk in another direction. I don’t understand why they treat me like that,” says Manana.

Below are national COVID-19 stats in SA:

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With all the information available, victims feel it is now up to the community to remove this stigma, so says another recovered patient Namhla Mfecane.

“I really doubt anything can now be done. People access information but they are very selective. For example: no one went door to door to talk to people about where to get social grant, yet everyone knows everything about it. Why must people go door to door talking about corona? I feel like it is up to people to receive the knowledge that is being given to them,” says Mfecane.

Amanda  Madyaka, after being diagnosed with COVID-19, opened a digital support group for those battling the virus, and those who have recovered. She says the group has attracted scores of COVID-19 patients.

“After my husband and I were diagnosed with the virus, I felt it was important to gather as much knowledge and also get other people who are going through the same thing. I feel it is now our responsibility, as those who have been through this virus to educate others. People are just afraid,” says Madyaka.

There are over 13 000 confirmed cases in the Eastern Cape, which has the third-highest number of active cases in the country.

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

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Gwala grave
Calls for Harry Gwala’s grave to be declared heritage site
21 June 2020, 2:54 PM

Speakers at the wreath laying ceremony of the late leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP) Harry Gwala have called on the government to declare his grave a national heritage site.

Gwala was arrested for his involvement in the struggle against apartheid. Harry Gwala Foundation chairperson Panyaza Lesufi says Gwala deserves recognition for his tireless contribution for a better life for all South Africans.

Comrade Gwala’s clarity that the liberation of black (especially African) South Africans would never be complete until they are economically liberated, and are able to scale the commanding heights of the economy, through controlling the means of production, was grounded in his strong communist beliefs.

He joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1942, and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) two years later.

Gwala’s spirit remains

The governing party the African National Congress (ANC) says Gwala’s revolutionary spirit remains with the party.

“Comrade Gwala was one of those rare revolutionaries who refused to be bow to the intimidation and repression of the apartheid regime, nor mitigate in any matter whatsoever his commitment to the total and fundamental liberation of all black (especially African) South Africans. As a consequence he was not only once, but actually twice, imprisoned as a political prisoner on Robben Island,” says ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule in a statement.

The ANC says Gwala, a teacher by profession, had a big influence on his students.

“He believed that teaching was not only the imbuing of so-called objective facts, but first and foremost was meant to make learners conscious of the conditions under which they live. He ardently believed that historical analyses and politically conscious decisions that inform deliberate action can liberate them from oppressive conditions – such as those that were imposed by the apartheid regime.

With this understanding and revolutionary approach to education, comrade Gwala was a disciple of the great Brazilian educator and philosopher, Paulo Freire, whom together with the communist guiding lights in his life, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, he was fond of quoting.”

 

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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