President Cyril Ramaphosa has dismissed reports that the country is about to go back to a higher level COVID-19 lockdown. However, he says there are worrying signs that South Africans are not adhering to protective measures such as wearing masks and social distancing.

The president says this is particularly serious as the country approaches the December holiday period when many people will let their guard down. He says he will address the nation next week on what is to happen next.

The president was replying to questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

South Africa is currently on Alert Level 1. Last week Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize warned that the country’s epidemiological reports indicate an increase in new cases.

South Africa currently has 716 759 coronavirus cases: 

 

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Zimbabwe trip

President Ramaphosa also addressed the issue of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s trip to Zimbabwe. He says it was granted on an urgent basis. Ramaphosa says this is why the request was not brought two weeks in advance as stipulated in the ministerial handbook.

He says the minister’s engagement with her Zimbabwe counterpart was part of diplomatic efforts to address instability in that country. The president would not say how much he knew about the African National Congress (ANC) delegation accompanying Mapisa-Nqakula ahead of the travel.

President Ramaphosa answers questions in NCOP: 

On the Prasa matter, President Ramaphosa says government will deploy drones and armed response to conduct virtual patrols as part of a R900 million security plan to protect the infrastructure of the Passenger Rail Agency.

He has told the NCOP that the vandalism and sabotage of rail infrastructure is one of the worst economic crimes in the country. He says it has a direct impact on the lives of millions of South Africans who rely on the commuter rail service to travel to work or to study. He says an e-guarding solution will be introduced for the protection of critical assets such as substations, relay rooms, and communication sites.

“Part of the plan is to immediately appoint security personnel and to deploy remotely piloted aircraft systems to conduct virtual patrols of high risk infrastructure. This capability will work together with specialised investigations and armed response.”