Sunday, 26 July marks four months since South Africa effected a lockdown. It was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March as part of the country’s efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Effected under the National State of Disaster Act, the lockdown levels vary in terms of regulations from the strict Level 5 to the more eased Level 1.

The country is currently at an Advanced Level 3 stage and has one of the highest infection rates in the world. These are the highlights of the news since March 26:


26 March

  • Lockdown is officially in effect, with a ban on inter-provincial travel.
  • Alcohol and cigarette sales banned.
  • The SANDF is deployed and government identifies quarantine sites.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa tests negative for COVID-19.

27 March

  • South Africa records first COVID-19 related death in the Western Cape.
  • COVID-19 infections surpass the 1000 mark.
  • Moody’s downgrades South Africa to ‘junk’ status amid lockdowns.

29 March

  • The Health Department in the Free State says it has managed to trace 973 COVID-19 contacts in the province after 480 people that attended a church service and had some contact with international guests tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

30 April

  • Allegations of police and armed forces’ brutality reported during lockdowns.

4 April

  • British American Tobacco urges the government to reconsider its ban on cigarette sales, saying it would have unintended consequences.

9 April

  • Lockdown is extended by two more weeks.

13 April

  • South Africa records its first COVID-19 death of a patient who had no underlying medical condition.

15 April

  • Rating agency Moody’s cuts its forecast for South Africa’s economy to a 2.5% contraction in 2020, citing the impact of a nationwide shutdown aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19.

18 April

  • The Department of Basic Education postpones the May/June Amended Senior Certificate (old matric) and National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination.

21 April

  • Ramaphosa announces a R500 billion support package for the economy.

29 April

  • UIF website crashes due to influx of visitors


1 May

  • SAHRC calls for mechanisms to curb gender-based violence during lockdown.
  • Inter-provincial travel is allowed for a week amid the easing of lockdown restrictions in attempts to aid the ailing economy

2 May

  • Scores of joggers, cyclists and walkers at the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town.

3 May

  • Sanef commemorates Press Freedom Day, commends South Africa’s coverage of COVID-19 outbreak

5 May

  • Family of Alexandra man, Collins Khosa, allegedly killed by soldiers, expresses distrust in SANDF probe.
  • First public hospital closed due to COVID-19 in Durban.

7 May

  • Inter-provincial travel period ends.

8 May

  • People who want to move house can now do so under strict conditions until the 7th of June.

28 May

  • Home-made beer claims four lives in Eastern Cape following alcohol sales ban.


8 June

  • Grades seven and 12 reopen for school.

16 June

  • Minister Nkoana-Mashabane calls on society to unite against gender-based violence.

20 June

  • Treasury says South Africa has been granted over R17 billion Emergency Assistance Program loan by the New Development Bank.
  • Rules for beauty industry gazetted.

23 June

  • First COVID-19 vaccine trial in SA begins

6 July

  • North West MEC for CoGTA Gordon Kegakilwe dies after contracting coronavirus

7 July

  • North West Premier Job Mokgoro tests positive for COVID-19

9 July

  • South Africa records the highest number of confirmed infections in one day: 13 674

13 July

  • Daughter of Nelson Mandela, Zindzi Mandela dies

14 July

  • SADTU calls for closure of all schools until after COVID-19 peak
  • The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe test positive for COVID-19

17 July

  • Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi tests positive for COVID-19

19 July

  • South Africa became the fifth-worst affected by the coronavirus cases globally with more than 360 000 infections

21 July

  • Minister Thulas Nxesi admitted to hospital due to COVID-19

22 July

  • Rivonia trialist Andre Mlangeni dies
  • The highest number of confirmed COVID-19 related deaths is recorded: 572

23 July

  • Ramaphosa announces temporary closure of schools

25 July

  • Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel tests positive for COVID-19.