Water, sanitation provision & Sassa grants — what you need to know before lockdown

25 March 2020 - 17:57 By Cebelihle Bhengu
The total number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in SA is now 709.
The total number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in SA is now 709.
Image: STR/AFP

Ministers on Tuesday addressed the media from Pretoria on how they plan to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak after president Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of the national lockdown.

The ministers of social development, water and sanitation and higher education outlined ways in which they will intervene to ensure public safety, and how they have adjusted service delivery for the lockdown, which begins at midnight on Thursday.

Here are six takeouts from the briefing:

Old age homes, orphanages will operate — Minister Lindiwe Zulu 

Shelters and drug rehabilitation centres under the department of social development will be closed during the lockdown.

Zulu said the closures would not apply to old age homes and orphanages but protective measures, such as a temporary ban on visitors, will be put in place to ensure social distancing and containment of the coronavirus.

Social grants payments — Minister Lindiwe Zulu 

Sassa will pay out social grants on March 30, with banks and retailers facilitating the payouts. Zulu said National Treasury would ensure that beneficiaries were able to access their money earlier.

“Citizens are reminded that the elderly and those with disabilities must be allowed to access their money so they can return home as quickly as possible. All other grants will be available on the first of April.”

The minister assured citizens that hygiene protocols and social distancing would be followed to prevent the transmission of the virus.

TVET Colleges — Minister Blade Nzimande

Exams at Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) colleges will be rescheduled after the early recess. Students who were evacuated from China are still under quarantine and are awaiting their coronavirus test results.

Nzimande said NSFAS allowances would also be paid out during the lockdown.

Studying from home — Minister Blade Nzimande 

Higher learning institutions will not suspend their research and academic activities, saying these will be done virtually through the internet.

“In universities there are preparations of online methods. The universities have also put in place measures to ensure continuity insofar as research activities, with most academic staff working from home.”

Water provision in drought-stricken communities — Minister Lindiwe Sisulu 

Sisulu said vulnerable communities had been identified and water and sanitation provision in these areas would be fast-tracked.

“Our focus is on water services and infrastructure and we intend to use this opportunity to upgrade this infrastructure. We have taken steps to seek support from the private sector and we have so far identified 2,000 communities and 2,100 sites where we will provide water facilities.”

Championing hygiene in public spaces — Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

Hand washing facilities will be provided in high density areas such as taxi ranks to maintain hygiene.

“We intend to ensure that we put a tank for every area and a wash basin so that all have access to this. In the rural areas we will be providing the elderly with buckets as well as sanitation to make sure they are able to wash their hands on a regular basis.”