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Sihle Zikalala
Premier Zikalala lauds effects of the lockdown in KZN
17 May 2020, 4:25 PM

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the national lockdown has worked for the province. Amid the criticism against it countrywide, Zikalala says it caused the rate of infection to decline.

Zikalala says this has given the province a chance to build health care capacity so that it would not be overwhelmed by the epidemic.

6 400 beds across the province are ready for isolation, quarantine, high care and intensive care.

“We have been able to prevent a possible catastrophe in which thousands of people could have died. The lockdown has lowered the infection rate and provided us enough time to build capacity and the capability to mitigate the impact of this pandemic,” says Zikalala.

In this video below Zikalala addresses the media:

KZN ready for Level 3

The Premier is confident that the province will be able to proceed with a relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown to Level 3, once President Cyril Ramaphosa announces steps to allow for this.

“There are strong indications that as KwaZulu-Natal, all our regions may move to level 3. However, there is a caveat for that to happen, and to remain that way, everyone will have to comply with all the non-pharmaceutical approaches to prevent infections. So all our people will be expected to ensure that they all follow and comply with measures that will be put in place that we prevent infections.”

Ilembe district

Meanwhile, Zikalala has expressed concern over an increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in the Ilembe district, north of the Durban Metropolitan area.

Zikalala says while the eThekwini Metro has 866 cases to date and the Umgungundlovu district at Pietermaritzburg 326, the number of cases in Ilembe per 100 000 of the district’s population, is higher. He explains that this trend emerged as the spread of the infections shifted from cases connected to international travel then, to local transmissions.

“While areas that were affected more were initially urban areas, we now note an increase in townships and still less an increase in rural areas. We need to work more to curb the spread in eThekwini, Ilembe and Umgungundlovu and these need to be closely monitored as we go forward.”

Infographic below shows South African COVID-19 statistics:

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Breaking lockdown regulations

KwaZulu-Natal government, a month ago, refuted allegations by the Democratic Alliance (DA) that Premier Sihle Zikalala had contravened the national lockdown regulations during a site visit to Clairwood Hospital, south of Durban.

The DA’s Central Constituency Head, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, formally laid a charge against the premier, accusing Zikalala of holding an illegal gathering.

During the visit, Zikalala and government officials gathered with essential workers, including police and healthcare workers, to accept a donation of medical equipment.

Provincial government Spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said the Premier undertook an inspection of the facility to ensure it will be ready for the isolation and quarantine of COVID-19 patients.

“The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala and member of the Provincial Command Council today undertook the routine work of the command council and visited Clairwood Hospital. The premier conducted an inspection in loco to assess the progress the province is making in ensuring that the facilities are ready for quarantining those who are sick and for isolating those who had tested positive for COVID-19. This was not a gathering as contemplated by the lockdown regulations. The provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal has to remind everyone that spreading fake news in order to hold headlines during this lockdown is a violation of regulations,” says Mabaso.

Infographic of Level 4 regulations:

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Cosatu says workers’ safety must be prioritised
16 May 2020, 10:25 PM

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi says that government, business and organised labour have agreed that each must take responsibility for the wellbeing of workers, as the economy is set to further open up. This follows Friday’s meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).

President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet various stakeholders over the next two weeks to discuss preparations to move parts of the country to the less-stricter Level 3.

Losi says social partners have agreed to regular screening and testing at the workplace, as well as the provision of personal protective equipment and social distancing measures.

“We are calling on employers also and we are calling for employers there and they have agreed in principle that every employer must provide safe transport for their employees. We are always saying workers cannot always be a minus in a balance sheet of a company. When the company seeks a relief from government you include workers but when you must go to the actual production workers become a liability to you and therefore, you minimise your costs in terms of minimising their safety,” says Losi.

Nedlac virtual meeting 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that the progression to Level 3 of the national lockdown must be accompanied by the crucial, non-negotiable and practical interventions in the country’s coronavirus prevention toolbox.

He co-chaired a virtual meeting of  Nedlac constituencies on Friday to assess preparations for the step-down from Level 4 to Level 3.

This was the first in a series of consultations between government and social partners as well as specific sectors of civil society.

Government, labour, business and the community sector are undertaking detailed work to ensure that lives will be saved and livelihoods will be protected as the economy is progressively unlocked amid COVID-19 as an ever-present danger.

The President says he is optimistic that the co-operation of various sectors could deliver an advance to Level 3 even before the end of May 2020.

Moving to Level 3

In his address to the nation on Wednesday, the President indicated that the country could implement Level 3 before the end of the month. However, he said some badly affected areas may still require stricter levels of lockdown.

Ramaphosa also acknowledged the heavy toll that the coronavirus lockdown is having on the lives of ordinary South Africans, emphasising that the lockdown was necessary to prevent an even larger number of infections and deaths.

Reopening the economy

Economist Dawie Roodt says the government should rapidly reprioritise the reopening of the economy as unemployment and poverty could cause more damage to the country than the coronavirus pandemic.

He says the National Coronavirus Command Council, which is the government’s main decision-making body regarding COVID-19, is not acting in the best interest of the people.

Roodt says, “We are totally mismanaging the economy at the moment. I’ve done some calculations and I’m pretty sure that more people will die because of poverty than people that will die because of this virus. What we are currently doing we are putting the economy into lockdown, it will increase poverty, it will increase unemployment and the sooner we open up this economy the better. We have certain ministers that, all of a sudden, have got a lot of power and they simply do not want to let go.”

Infographic: Level 3 lockdown:

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Faith Mazibuko
Over 20 arrested in Ekurhuleni for violating lockdown regulations
16 May 2020, 9:22 PM

Over 20 people have been arrested in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg, for violating lockdown regulations. This as some shops were shut down for selling expired goods.

This follows a multidisciplinary operation in Ekurhuleni on Saturday, by Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Elias Mawela and Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko, to try and enforce lockdown regulations.

Law enforcement agencies patrolled the streets of Kempton Park to see if people were complying with the lockdown regulations.

A bad stench in the air from rotten meat led to the questioning of the shop owner, while environmental health inspectors checked items to see if any of the good had reached their sell by date.

Fraudulent documents and expired food were discovered, resulting in the closure of a butcher.

Gauteng Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko says, “It means our people have been taken for a ride for a very long time, but with us now hammering, checking each and every shop. That’s when we’re picking up all the wrong things that have been happening under our nose.”

On the other side, a shop operating illegally was raided weeks ago but was caught operating again. Gauteng Provincial Police Commissioner Elias Mawela says COVID-19 lockdown has introduced a new way of policing.

“We need to be on the ground, foot patrolling closer to the people so that we know what’s happening. It’s a new way of policing. Three guys were arrested and four firearms recovered. These guys were intercepted on their way to commit a robbery. Another guy was arrested. He was found in possession of drugs,” says Mawela.

Over 20 people were also arrested for failure to confine themselves to their premises.

Below is a graphic of Level 4 regulations:

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Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenya bans cross-border movement between Tanzania and Somalia amid COVID-19
16 May 2020, 7:36 PM

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has banned movement across the country’s borders with Tanzania and Somalia in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus. While movement of cargo will continue, President Kenyatta said drivers would have to be tested for the deadly viral disease.

49 more people tested positive for COVID-19 in Kenya bringing the tally to 830 cases. Kenyatta also announced that 78 drivers who have tested positive were barred from entering the country.

Along the East African borders truck drivers have emerged as a high risk group for the spread of coronavirus, said Kenyatta pointing out a spike in the numbers this week.

43 people tested positive for COVID-19, all of them having travelled from Tanzania and Somalia, now Kenya is moving to stop cross border transmissions.

“There will be a cessation of movement of persons and any passenger-ferrying automobiles and vehicles into and out of the territory of Kenya through the Kenya-Tanzania international border,” says Kenyatta.

Within the country, the President announced that a 21-day dawn to dusk curfew would continue for a further three weeks.

“I know there is growing global pressure for easing of measures against this disease and for all of us to get back to normal,” says Kenyatta.

Restrictions of movement in and out of the capital Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale on the Indian Ocean coast and Mandera in the northeast, which were first imposed in April will continue.

Schools and places of worship will remain closed and public gatherings are still banned.

Police
Sanef expresses shock after police allegedly assault journalist
16 May 2020, 6:52 PM

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) has expressed shock at an incident where a Ficksburg journalist was allegedly assaulted by members of the public order police.

Former SABC journalist Paul Nthoba is in hiding after police allegedly assaulted him in Ficksburg, in the Free State.

Nthoba, who owns a community newspaper, says he was working on a story about police visibility in the area and took a photo of police patrolling the area. He says when police officers saw him taking pictures, they allegedly started to insult and beat him.

Nthoba can be heard in a cellphone recording screaming and asking police officers why they are beating him.

Nthoba says the police beat him for doing his job.

He says he feels disgruntled and nowhere to run for help.

“I was on an assignment covering police visibility and took a picture of policeman and they started insulting me and accosted me, beat me up and I went. And I went to the police station to open a case. When I arrived there I was beaten up in front senior police officers. And currently, I’m hiding because I don’t feel safe with people with guns and badges are after me. So, they have the whole state machinery. And I’m just a alone somewhere there in the rural areas. Who is there to protect me?” explains Nthoba.

Nthoba went to open a case of assault at the police station and alleges that a police officer hesitated to open a case. He alleges that while he was at the station the same police officers followed him and allegedly beat him up again.

Nthoba says he does not feel safe anymore.

“Yes, I’m in hiding because they said who am I to think that I can open a case against the police and they are going to deal with me. So I’m scared. I Iive alone and our area is quite. I don’t know what would happen and that’s why I’m in hiding. I wish I could go out of the country, but the borders are closed. Who is there to protect me? And that’s my main worry. I keep on asking myself who is there to protect me? The police station is suppose to be a sanctuary,” says Nthoba.

Eye witnesses say the police usually park in the open area, that is a stone throw away from the Caledon River which is the border between South Africa and Lesotho.

Attempts to get a comment from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate on the incident has been unsuccessful at the time of publishing this article.

In the video below, Paul Nthabo says he is in hiding fearing the police:

 

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