COVID-19 WRAP | Day 8 - SA death toll climbs to 7, cases at 1,505 and yet another government backtrack
April 3 2020 - 10.10pm
Our live coverage has come to an end for today. Here are some of the main stories from Friday, day 8 of SA's national lockdown:
- Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of cases in SA climbed to 1,505 with two further confirmed Covid-19 deaths taking the official total to seven - but he said two further deaths are being investigated;
- A private Durban hospital shut its emergency room and banned new admissions as three patients died in 72 hours;
- President Cyril Ramaphosa defended the army and police as a court case against their alleged heavy-handedness was lodged;
- Government admitted that getting protective gear for medical staff was a headache, and this as a union went to court to force government's hand; and
- Government had to backtrack from a comment on Thursday that South Africans could book accommodation when travelling across provincial borders for funerals.
April 3 2020 - 20:08
Prepare for flood of Covid-19 deaths, warns cemetery association
The SA Cemeteries Association (Saca) has called on municipalities to plan for the potential demand for cemetery and cremation services as it anticipates an increase in deaths as a result of Covid-19.
“The SA Cemeteries Association are very much aware of the plight of what is to come. Without the threat of the virus and the impending catastrophe, SA cities are currently challenged with the disposal of remains, be it in the provision of burial space or that of cremating our loved ones,” the association said in a statement.
April 3 2020 - 18:07
Getting protective gear for medical personnel is a headache for the government
The government is struggling to procure equipment to protect the medical practitioners who are on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus.
Deputy health minister Joe Phaahla made this admission on Friday, saying the biggest producer of this equipment was China, which was itself in need of it.
April 3 2020 - 17:59
Fruit and vegetables impounded during Zimbabwe lockdown
Police have impounded tonnes of fruit and vegetables in Zimbabwe, despite the agriculture sector being flagged as an essential service during the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.
Police launched a nationwide crackdown that has affected vendors, who constitute a huge chunk of the informal sector.
April 3 2020 - 17:57
Roadblock blitz nets 56 overloaded taxis ignoring lockdown rules
The transport ministry reported on Friday that 146 lockdown-related roadblocks were conducted around the country on Thursday at which 17,395 vehicles were stopped.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula said authorities also prevented 341 cars from entering or exiting provincial borders without the requisite permits, comprising 231 cars in Gauteng, 86 cars in Mpumalanga and 24 cars in the Eastern Cape.
A number of public transport offences relating to the Covid-19 lockdown were recorded, including 56 minibus drivers who failed to observe the maximum 70% limit on passengers, and 32 e-hailing providers who were caught carrying more passengers than permitted.
April 3 2020 - 17:46
St Augustine's shuts emergency ward and new admissions as three patients die of Covid-19
Durban's biggest private hospital took extraordinary measures to shut down its emergency ward and ban new admissions after the deaths there of three patients from Covid-19 in 72 hours.
The measures came shortly after KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala announced during a media conference in Durban on Friday afternoon that the provincial government was in consultation with the private hospital to consider shutting after 11 health-care workers tested positive for Covid-19.
April 3 2020 - 17:44
Ramaphosa defends army and police in response to urgent lockdown court case
President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the conduct — “in general” — of the 18,000 police and defence force personnel enforcing government’s Covid-19 shutdown regulations.
The president also maintained that he had “no specific knowledge” of law-enforcement officials behaving unconstitutionally.
April 3 2020 - 17:25
Government backtracks again: no you can't stay in hotels, B&Bs or lodges
The government has yet again backtracked on a directive dealing with the 21-day lockdown.
On Friday, justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola backtracked on government's relaxation of one element of cross-province travel for funerals.
April 3 2020 - 17:12
We have approached the President to request reinforcement from a number of countries such as Cuba and China— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) April 3, 2020
April 3 2020 - 16:56
SA records two more Covid-19 deaths as cases climb to 1,505
There have now been seven Covid-19 deaths recorded in South Africa, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Friday.
Speaking in Cape Town, he said there were now 1,505 cases of Covid-19 recorded across the country, an increase of 43 from Thursday night.
April 3 2020 - 16:54
Western Cape seeks medical volunteers as Covid-19 cases rise to 418
The number of Covid-19 patients in the Western Cape rose by 25 to 418 on Friday, said premier Alan Winde. Twenty-five were in hospital, with seven in intensive care.
Winde launched an appeal for people with medical training to volunteer for possible call-up.
April 3 2020 - 16:32
Zimbabwe uses water cannons as weapons against coronavirus
Zimbabwe's police began using water cannons on Friday to disinfect markets and bus ranks, turning instruments associated with repression into weapons against the new coronavirus.
April 3 2020 - 16:11
White House doctor tells US to do social distancing better; Trump objects
Dr Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House task force on the coronavirus, had a message for Americans on Thursday: do better at social distancing. President Donald Trump didn't like the message.
April 3 2020 - 16:08
Shoppers hit the sweet and chip aisles during lockdown
Snacks of all kinds seem to be among the priorities for South Africans during the national lockdown.
As day eight of the 21-day lockdown headed towards its close on Friday, shoppers told TimesLIVE about their eating habits during isolation.
April 3 2020 - 16:04
Maties medical students answer call of duty to fight coronavirus
A group of medicine and health sciences students at Stellenbosch University’s Tygerberg campus have joined the fight against Covid-19 by volunteering during the lockdown.
Instead of packing their bags and going home for the national lockdown, hundreds of undergraduate students at the university's faculty of medicine and health sciences decided to sacrifice their recess to stay and fight the coronavirus pandemic.
April 3 2020 - 15:48
Caf likely to put further freeze on Bafana Afcon qualifying matches
Bafana Bafana are unlikely to see any action before September with their next scheduled Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on the brink of being cancelled.
South Africa’s national team have already seen last month’s two Group C qualifiers against tiny Sao Tome e Principe both home and away – postponed and were next set to host Ghana on June 6.
But the Confederation of African Football look likely to follow in the footsteps of Uefa‚ who called off all scheduled internationals for June because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
April 3 2020 - 15:33
April 3 2020 - 15:26
KZN police station evacuated after officer tests positive for Covid-19
A KwaZulu-Natal police station was temporarily closed on Friday after it emerged that a member had tested positive for Covid-19.
National police spokesperson Brig Vishnu Naidoo confirmed to TimesLIVE that health officials had evacuated members at the Folweni police station, south of Durban, as a “precautionary measure”.
April 3 2020 - 15:20
WATCH | Behind the 3D printed face shields: how UJ is helping fight Covid-19
A team at the University of Johannesburg is using 3D printing to produce surgical face shields to help meet the rapidly growing need for personal protective equipment for health care workers during the coronavirus crisis.
April 3 2020 - 15:12
Cops investigating Cape Town cake shop for baking during lockdown
Cape Town police are investigating a cake shop after it continued operating during the lockdown — even though it appeared to have a licence to do so.
The Velvet Cake Co in Bellville confirmed that it went about its business because it was in possession of a permit from the Companies Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
April 3 2020 - 15:07
Foreigners jet out of Cape Town on SAA on Friday, headed for Germany
Foreigners will leave Cape Town for Germany on Friday afternoon, after the go-ahead was given for a repatriation flight.
The Western Cape government on Friday confirmed that the flight would depart at 3pm.
However, only foreigners who had made the necessary arrangements with their consulates or embassies and have the required paperwork, including an air ticket, will be allowed to leave the country, the provincial government said.
April 3 2020 - 15:04
Businessman who allegedly locked workers in factory accuses police of inhumane treatment
A Chinese company operating in KwaZulu-Natal has accused police of starving its CEO, Ming Lai He, while he was in custody.
The CEO was arrested last week in connection with contravening the Disaster Management Act. He also faces charges of forced labour in contravention of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, failure to maintain a safe working environment and failure to lock down a non-essential business in contravention of the Disaster Management Regulations.
April 3 2020 15:00
LISTEN | WEEK 1: The fight for control
For South Africans in densely populated urban areas, it is next to impossible to socially isolate and this strain was felt as SA entered its first official week of lockdown.
This immersive podcast follows Sunday Times reporter Alex Patrick and senior reporter Graeme Hosken, as they document the first week of SA's lockdown in remarkable detail.
Take a trip outside your front door without having to leave your home, by tuning into Boots on the ground: behind SA’s national lockdown.
April 3 2020 15:53
Covid-19: How to volunteer during the lockdown
With the nationwide lockdown in motion, leaving your home to go out and volunteer is no longer an option.
The online social platform forgood.co.za has changed this by introducing virtual volunteering.
As an online social platform, forgood.co.za connects people around the country. It is now appealing to South Africans to spend their time during the lockdown to carry on making a difference through virtual volunteering.
April 3 2020 14:45
WATCH | What do you do when you test positive for Covid-19
Doctor Ann Mathews from the National Health Laboratory Service has outlined tips on what is done when one tests positive for Covid-19.
April 3 2020 14:18
Mkhize meets with Western Cape government to discuss Covid-19 response plan
April 3 2020 14:14
'It’s no joke. Take it seriously', says Gauteng man who tested positive for Covid-19
You start the day feeling wonderful. It’s like you have never been sick. Then it hits you, to a point where you can’t lift your arms. When you cough, your lungs burn.
From sore kidneys to shortness of breath, pink eye, fever blisters, nose bleeds, headaches and body aches, these are some of the symptoms a Gauteng man has experienced.
Leon Haywood, from Krugersdorp on the West Rand, tested positive for the virus on March 27.
April 3 2020 13:52
Man going to visit his girlfriend among 16 arrested in Jozi lockdown roadblock
Johannesburg authorities have nailed more than a dozen chancers who were trying to breach lockdown regulations — including one man who was en route to visit his girlfriend.
They were bust as the Metro Police carried out rockblocks on Johannesburg's N1.
“Someone has come here and told us that their grandmother has died. And then upon further investigation they have actually come out with the truth that they are going to see their girlfriend,” said city spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase.
At least 16 motorists were arrested on Friday morning.
April 3 2020 13:44
Ramaphosa promises to clear the air on lockdown cigarette sales
Confusion over cigarette sales during the Covid-19 lockdown should end on Saturday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called an urgent meeting of the President’s Co-ordinating Council to clarify regulations.
This follows an announcement by Western Cape premier Alan Winde that cigarettes could be sold to customers who also bought essential items such as food.
On Friday, Winde said he had called Ramaphosa “to make clear our concerns relating to the proper interpretation of the regulations, which are at times vague”.
April 3 2020 13:35
WATCH | South African tenor performs for neighbours from his balcony during lockdown
Music has a way of connecting us. Or in the words of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato: “Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul.”
For South African-born international tenor Pierre van der Westhuizen, who lives in Somerset West, his passion is to “sing music of all different aspects of life”.
Born into a family of six musicians, Van der Westhuizen said he had been singing since the age of three.
April 3 2020 13:10
Water department provides densely populated areas with mobile toilets
The department of water and sanitation has provided densely populated areas with mobile toilets and water tankers.
To curb the spread of #CoronavirusInSouthAfrica and improve hygiene for people in densely populated areas, we are providing mobile toilets, more water tanks and prioritizing the repair of infrastructure in Tembisa, Gauteng. #Covid_19 #Covid_19SA@LindiweSisuluSA pic.twitter.com/WUk49JOCpV— Water&SanitationRSA (@DWS_RSA) April 3, 2020
April 3 2020 13:00
Covid-19: How to apply for the UIF relief benefit
There has been some confusion about how employees who will not be paid during the lockdown can access promised financial help from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
Last week the government announced that the fund would help employers and employees who needed financial assistance through the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 Ters), previously referred to as the National Disaster Benefit.
However, desperate employees scrambling to ensure they have an income next month are frustrated about not knowing what documents are required and whether they can apply as individuals or if their employer must apply on their behalf. They say e-mails to the fund are not answered.
April 3 2020 12:13
MK vets 'helping' on the streets? 'Hell no,' says DA's Phumzile Van Damme
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme is against the idea of MK veterans helping the military and police during the 21-day national lockdown.
According to Sowetan, the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in KwaZulu-Natal will on Friday call on its members to strengthen law-enforcement efforts as the country tries to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“The KwaZulu-Natal MKMVA feels the time has come for a roll-call on April 4 2020 in the province and the rest of SA to inform all our members to come out and reinforce our law-enforcement agencies in this self-sacrificing task of preventing the further spread of coronavirus,” provincial chairperson Themba Mavundla told the paper.
April 3 2020 12:10
Water tanks roll out to Hammanskraal, Benoni and Soweto
The department of water & sanitation (DWS) in Gauteng has stepped up efforts to relieve water shortages by delivering 852 water tanks and 20 tankers to water-stressed communities that have the least capacity to avert the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the province.
In a united effort to curb the spread of the virus, the department said it was working collaboratively with Rand Water and municipalities to provide water to desperate communities in the most densely populated informal settlements.
Various areas in the province, including Roodepoort, Soweto and Ennerdale in the City of Johannesburg, and Hammanskraal in the City of Tshwane, benefited from the effort. Other areas that benefited include municipalities in the West Rand District Municipality, as well as Benoni in Ekurhuleni.
April 3 2020 12:07
Children donate groceries to locked down street hawkers in Maritzburg
Across the country street hawkers have been prohibited from trading during the national lockdown.
“It is hard for everyone but for them it’s harder,” says Sibongumusa Zuma. He organised children to donate groceries to 10 street vendors in Dambuza, Pietermaritzburg, with help from local businesses.
“We are living with them and we see them hustling every day,” said Zuma. “After the president’s announcement we sat down and discussed how we can assist them. We decided that we can buy them food. It’s not enough, but it will make a difference.”
This article was first published by GroundUp
April 3 2020 11:56
Trauma unit at Durban's St Augustine's hospital closed amid Covid-19 testing
The trauma unit at Durban's St Augustine's hospital was temporarily shut down on Friday.
When TimesLIVE visited the hospital on Friday morning, security guards at the hospital said no-one was allowed to enter the unit at the hospital because of the “virus”.
Patients coming in were either being diverted to ambulances stationed outside the emergency room entrance or being diverted to other hospitals.
A doctor who didn't want to be identified said the unit was put on precautionary shutdown amid coronavirus testing.
April 3 2020 11:40
Eskom sees more infrastructure theft during lockdown
South Africa has been in national lockdown for just over a week, and Eskom said while it has been able to mostly keep the power on, it is being crippled by cable thieves.
April 3 2020 11:33
Gender-based violence complaints hit 87,000 so far in lockdown, as cop arrested for allegedly raping wife
Police minister Bheki Cele on Thursday confirmed that seven days into lockdown, police had received more than 87,000 gender-based violence complaints.
Addressing journalists on Thursday evening, Cele said the police would enforce the revised regulations as signed and gazetted by co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
April 3 2020 10:33
Breakdown of Covid-19 numbers in SA
The department of health has provided a breakdown of Covid-19 statistics in South Africa.
April 3 2020 09:32
Government urges SA to report fake news
In a time of heightened fear and anxiety government has urged South Africans to check the veracity of information about Covid-19 before they share it.
April 3 2020 08:10
Dramatic end to refugee occupation of Cape Town church
A barefoot little girl in a red flower print dress sat inside the Central Methodist Mission in Cape Town listening to the deafening banging on the ancient wooden church doors on Thursday afternoon.
Outside, invisible to her, police Tactical Response Team members were storming the building, using special equipment and sledgehammers to smash through the wood and glass doors to the entrance of one of Greenmarket Square’s oldest buildings.
April 3 2020 07:45
Nehawu to file court papers against health department
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) will on Friday file court papers against the health ministry.
“The National Department of Health has left us with no choice but to take an urgent and drastic legal action to compel it to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1993 in order to protect our members on duty.”