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COVID-19 WRAP | SA records first death as long queues at taxi ranks and shops plague day one of lockdown

27 March 2020 - 07:04 By TIMESLIVE
Department of health has revealed that one person has died of Covid-19 in South Africa and four remain in ICU in hospital.
Department of health has revealed that one person has died of Covid-19 in South Africa and four remain in ICU in hospital.
Image: Jozef Polc/123rf.com

27 March 2020 - 10:10pm

Long queues at taxi ranks and shops plague day one of SA's lockdown

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has conceded that there were a number of challenges that had presented themselves on first day of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Lockdown regulations state that minibus taxis and e-hailing services can only operate for a total of eight hours a day, primarily for the use of essential services workers. 

These are from 5am to 9am and from 4pm to 8pm. The public transport vehicles were also not permitted to reach full capacity.

27 March 2020 - 10:04pm

KZN old age home resident, aged 81, tests positive for Covid-19

Residents of a KwaZulu-Natal old age home are being tested for Covid-19 after an 81-year-old tested positive.

In a statement, health minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the octogenarian was in the intensive care unit and on a ventilator.

He highlighted her case as an illustration of how the country's elderly were vulnerable to Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

27 March 2020 - 9:25pm

Only one Covid-19 fatality in SA: Health department clarifies death toll

Only one person has died from Covid-19 in South Africa, the health ministry said on Friday night.

Earlier, the department said that two people had died: a 48-year-old woman and a 28-year-old woman.

However, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize admitted that this was wrong, and sought to clarify the information that was initially provided.

27 March 2020 - 9:15

Fort Hare students chased from residence ahead of lockdown

Fort Hare University has again come under fire over claims that it unceremoniously evicted foreign students from residences at its Alice campus in the middle of the night ahead of the lockdown that started at midnight on Thursday.

This after a video was shared showing guards shouting while chasing crying students out of a building, DispatchLIVE reported.

27 March 2020 - 9:05pm

France reports 299 more coronavirus deaths, total toll 1,995

France on Friday reported that 299 more people had died in hospital from the coronavirus epidemic over the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll from the epidemic in the country to 1,995.

Top French health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that 32,964 people had tested positive for the virus so far in France, although the real number of cases is likely far higher as testing was reserved for high-risk patients.

The daily toll, while severe, is lower than the 365 new deaths reported on Thursday. The toll in France does not include those who died at home or at retirement homes.


27 March 2020 - 7:42pm

Government doing everything it can to ensure SA has enough medical equipment: Patel

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said on Friday night that his department was doing everything it could do ensure that SA had enough ventilators and other vital medical equipment to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. 

He said several measures were in place, including:

  • Key products would not be allowed to be exported with a special permit;
  • The country was working on a ventilator prototype that would repurpose equipment used for vehicle manufacturing to “get this basic ventilator in production as quickly as possible”;
  • Plans were in place to fast-track imports and make sure that they were speedily cleared at ports of entry “so that hospitals and provinces have the equipment” instead of it being held up in the ports; and
  • Using facilities more efficiently, including allowing an exemption of the Competition Act to allow hospitals to share equipment  (including ventilators), patients, nurses, technical skills and medical personnel.

27 March 2020 - 7:20

At least 55 arrested for defying lockdown rules, says Bheki Cele

At least 55 people have been arrested for breaking lockdown laws, police minister Bheki Cele said on Friday evening.

The majority were from Gauteng.

"These people are people that don’t have a goodwill - people that are doing exactly what they were told not to do. Some of them were opening their street bashes, some of them were drinking, taking their bush chairs, sitting under the trees and undermining the law.

“But more than that, undermining the lives of the people of the Republic of South Africa, and their own lives,” said Cele.

27 March 2020 - 7:07

'Nothing wrong' with Cyril Ramaphosa wearing military uniform: defence minister

There was “nothing wrong” with President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing soldiers while wearing military uniform.

Ramaphosa wore camouflage clothing on Thursday night when speaking to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) ahead of their deployment to help keep order during the national lockdown.

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula defended the president.

27 March 2020 - 6:50

Germany wants to evacuate its citizens in SA, says Mbalula

The German government wants to evacuate its nationals in SA from Tuesday next week.

This is according to transport minister Fikile Mbalula, who was speaking at a media briefing by government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster on Friday evening.

“The German government has come forward for next week, that they want to evacuate … German people out of SA from next week, on Tuesday,” he said.

27 March 2020 - 6:30pm

SA Covid-19 cases rise to 1170

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA has increased to 1,170. Minister in the presidency, Jackson Mthembu, said on Friday evening that health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize had asked him to relay the figure.

27 March 2020- 6:30pm

SA's 40km Zimbabwe border fence goes ahead despite lockdown

Construction of the new 40km fence at the Beitbridge border post is going ahead despite the 21-day national lockdown which began on Friday.

The fence, announced by public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille just over a week ago, was to keep foreign nationals out of the country in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus into SA.

“This is to ensure no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice- versa, in line with one of the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa’s borders and ports are to be secured with immediate effect,” said De Lille.

27 March 2020 - 5:17pm

Durban police lock up lockdown offender in CBD

Durban police were out in full force on Friday to ensure the city's residents were complying with the national lockdown restrictions.

Durban metro police spokesperson Superintendent Boysie Zungu said those who were out on the streets without permits were hauled away.

"We put them in vans, warned them and then took them to other vans to make sure they went home," he said.

27 March 2020 - 16:54

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and chief whip Steve Swart both test positive for Covid-19

Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, has tested positive for Covid-19. 

And so did Steve Swart, the party's chief whip in the National Assembly.

This was revealed by the party's deputy president Wayne Thring on Friday, just days after the ACDP had announced that Meshoe was in self-imposed isolation having shared close space with people who later tested positive for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

27 March 2020 - 16:52

Drive-through Covid-19 testing station opens in Joburg

A drive-through Covid-19 testing station opened on Thursday March 26 2020 at The Wanderers Club Rugby Fields in Johannesburg. As pressure mounts for the government to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the public and private health- care sectors are working together.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced the first two Covid-19 related deaths in the country. Coronavirus cases in SA have now surpassed the 1,000 mark with Friday being the first day of the national lockdown.

27 March 2020 - 16:00

British health secretary tests positive for Covid-19

British health secretary Matt Hancock revealed on Friday that he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Hancock posted a video on Twitter confirming he had tested positive for the virus.

This comes after British PM Boris Johnson confirmed that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Image: Christopher Furlong/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

27 March 2020 15:11

Second woman who died as a result of Covid-19 in Western Cape identified 

The identity of the second Western Cape woman who died as a result of Covid-19 has been revealed.

According to eNuus 28-year old Sherilee Jansen is the name of the deceased's name.

Jansen was a nurse at Melomed in Mitchells Plain. Her test results are still outstanding but she has been "clinically diagnosed".

27 March 2020 15:09

Three buses filled with SANDF members in Alexandra's Pan African mall

Three buses filled with SANDF members have stopped outside the Pan African Mall in Alexandra.

When the buses first arrived, they drew the attention of many of the locals, many of whom were continuing about their daily business and walking around. Some of the those who were not intimidated by the soldiers who had come off the buses approached them to request sanitiser and masks.

The soldiers gladly squirted sanitiser on their hands and even handed a mask and gloves to a young man pushing a trolley filled with vegetables. It was not immediately clear what the soldiers were doing at the mall.

27 March 2020 14:42

Fourty-Seven German tourists in quarantine in Gauteng after one tested positive

Gauteng’s department of health has confirmed that 47 German tourists are under quarantine after one tested positive for Covid-19.

“One member of the group who tested positive for Covid-19 is at a health facility in Gauteng," health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said on Friday. “The group had planned to leave the country yesterday [Thursday]. Port health services were alerted and responded to the situation, leading to the group being grounded.”

She said the group was in quarantine at a private facility in Gauteng.

“Due to the limited quarantine space, separate arrangements were made to have the other 15 members of the group accommodated at one of the Gauteng’s health facilities."

27 March 2020 2:45

'Doing it for my country' – garbage collector, nurse and petrol attendant on working through lockdown

As  millions of South Africans stayed home on Friday, the first day of a 21-day nationwide lockdown, essential services workers had to wake up as early as 4am to report for duty. 

These include health workers, cashiers, petrol attendants and garbage collectors.

Thokozani Mjoli, a garbage collector, said he was thrilled to be considered an essential services worker who “served the country, no matter what”. 

“It feels good to do something good for the country, especially now, because there is a big crisis. We can’t say no, the country needs us ,no matter what,” he said.   

Mjoli said if he and his colleagues downed their tools, the country would not be able to operate.

“It shows we are important, if we stopped working the country would stink.”

27 March 2020 14:00

Cape Town police arrest a man for non-compliance during Covid-19 lockdown

A man has been arrested in Cape Town CBD for not complying with government's lockdown regulations.

27 March 2020 14:35

Cape Town metro police remind Langa residents to comply with lockdown regulations

City of Cape Town Metro Police have taken time out to remind Langa township residents to keep a safe distance between each other and social distance. 

27 March 2020 14:19

The lighter side of the 21-day lockdown

A jubilant man dances on the roof of a house in Langa, Cape Town on day one of the 21-day lockdown while metro police patrols the area.

27 March 2020 13:30

UK's Boris Johnson tests positive for Covid-19

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is experiencing mild symptoms.

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus. I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government’s response via video-conference as we fight this virus. Together we will beat this."

UCT confirms fifth case of Covid-19, a student

27 March 2020 12:55

The University of Cape Town has confirmed its fifth case of Covid-19.

In a statement UCT vice-chancellor professor Mamokgethi Phakeng confirmed the latest case. 

 "I write to you to inform you that we have confirmed a fifth case of Covid-19 at the University of Cape Town. It is a student."

27 March 2020 12:40

Gauteng taxi drivers not willing to comply with lockdown restrictions

As the country entered the first day of the 21-day nation-wide lockdown on Friday, some taxi drivers went about their business as per normal, some even overloading passengers in Johannesburg.

This was particularly prevalent in Bara taxi rank in the morning – taxis hooted and formed long ques to load essential workers to various destinations.

A taxi driver operating between Pimville and Joburg CBD said he if he could not take full passangers, he would rather stay home.

“They are crazy, if they were serious about shutting down the country, they would have provided means of transport for the people who must go to work. I can’t have 7 people in a taxi, that is running a loss…if they insist, we will stop and also go home,” he told TimesLIVE.

27 March 2020 12:25

Drive-through Covid-19 testing station at Wanderers stadium

At the cost of R1,190 residents in the City of Joburg are getting tested for Covid-19 by means of a drive-through testing station at Wanderers stadium.

27 March 2020 12:15

Durban communters stranded

Hundreds of commuters have been left stranded in Durban following a last minute decision by the eThekwini Metro Taxi Council (Emtc) to suspend all operations within the city.

This after the council said it had learned of a new instruction on Friday morning that no more than seven people would be allowed per load - making it not economically feasible for them to operate.

Capetonians continued to shop on the first day of the lockdown.
Capetonians continued to shop on the first day of the lockdown.
Image: Aron Hyman

27 March 2020 11:52

Cape Town in lockdown? Not so much

Cape Town was supposed to be on lockdown on Friday but with droves of homeless people, beggars, hustlers, refugees, and ordinary residents on shopping runs it felt more like a Sunday after Christmas, reports TimesLIVE journalist Aron Hyman.

A taxi rank in Durban on the first day of the lockdown.
A taxi rank in Durban on the first day of the lockdown.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

27 March 2020 11:50 

Some taxi ranks quiet, others not

Taxi ranks in Cape Town and Durban are quiet as commuters opt to stay home on the first day of the national lockdown. 

A deserted taxi rank in Cape Town
A deserted taxi rank in Cape Town
Image: Aron Hyman
Homeless people in a queue on day 1 of the nationwide lockdown in Durban.
Homeless people in a queue on day 1 of the nationwide lockdown in Durban.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

27 March 2020 11:45

Homeless people seek shelter in Durban

Sipho Khuzwayo has roamed free on Durban's streets for 11 years but on Friday, fear of the Covid-19 drove him to join a line with hundreds of Durban's homeless who sought shelter during the lockdown.

"I don't know much about the virus but I know that I am afraid and that is why I am here," Khuzwayo told TimesLIVE reporter Lwandile Bhengu.

Homeless people in Durban queueing for medical tests
Homeless people in Durban queueing for medical tests
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

27 March 2020 11:35

Family does not know how woman who died got the virus - report

Rapport newspaper has identified the 48-year-old woman who died of Covid-19 in MediClinic Durbanville on Friday morning as Madeleine van Wyk. Her husband told Netwerk24 the family did not know where she had contracted the virus. He said she started feeling sick about a week ago.

27 March 2020 11:30

Eskom offers 416 beds at Eskom Academy in fight against Covid-19

Eskom has offered the department of health 416 beds in order to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

As government tries to contain the spread of the virus and identify treatment sigts. the cases of the coronavirus in SA are climbing at an alarming rate.

27 March 2020 10:30

Lockdown sees PE streets sparse

From the suburbs to the sea, the streets of Port Elizabeth resembled a ghost town on the first day of the national 21-day lockdown.

Cape Road, which is usually bustling, only saw 11 pedestrian casually ambling through the street at about 7am  while vehicles were nonexistent.

In what began to feel like a horror movie, the promenade which normally has people jogging by the beach flooding the walkways, did not have a single person.

However the CBD, while not nearly as busy as usual, did have the occasional taxi operating.

27 March 2020 09:05

South Africa has recorded its first two cases of Covid-19 deaths.

In a statement minister of health Zweli Mkhize said the deaths were recorded in the Western Cape.

"This morning, we wake South Africans up with sad news that we now have our first deaths resulting from COVID-19. These two deaths occurred in the Western Cape. One at a private hospital and the other at a public hospital."

The department said it would brief the media later on on Friday as the number of Covid-19 cases have risen after SA tipped the 1000 mark.

27 March 2020 - 08:25

'Gauteng, especially Sandton is the epicentre of the virus' Aaron Motsoaledi

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says most infections of the coronavirus have been recorded in Sandton.

"The epicentre is now Gauteng, especially the Johannesburg area, especially Sandton... That's where the elite stay, they go all over Europe, they went to Italy and England, now they are in contact with people who are doing shopping there and their workers."

27 March 2020 - 09:21

Bored during lockdown? Mzansi has you covered with #Twitter30seconds

It's only day one of a 21-day lockdown in SA and many are already complaining about being bored.

Before you eat your feeling and watch another Netflix show that really isn't worth your time, try your hand at #Twitter30Seconds.

For a minute, you might think it's just another fad, but there are actually some goodies in there. Yes, we spent a while figuring out the answers.

And really, try not to cheat and don't scroll down on the mentions. 

27 March 2020 - 06:49

Coronavirus: ceasefires and resolutions in project at UN

The United Nations on Thursday hailed armed groups heeding its call for a ceasefire during the coronavirus crisis, as Security Council and General Assembly members prepared draft resolutions in support of the measure.

Armed groups in Cameroon, the Philippines, Yemen and Syria have moved in recent days to reduce violence as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday issued an appeal for ceasefire.

The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffith, said he was “heartened” to see positive responses from both the government and Huthi rebels.


27 March 2020 - 07:11

Arrests minutes into lockdown as rules are flouted in Joburg

It was not a seamless entry into the official 21-day lockdown sparked by the coronavirus  in Johannesburg as scores of chancers came face-to face with the law after midnight on Friday.

Police officers and metro cops began patrolling the streets of Johannesburg and had already made arrests after some people chose to ignore the lockdown rules.

Among the rules were calls for people to be confined in their homes, for pubs to be closed and for no person in public to be found in possession of alcohol.