COVID-19 WRAP | SA deaths up to 24, Cele confirms Ndabeni-Abrahams probe and Somizi apologises (again)

10 April 2020 - 09:54 By TimesLIVE
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula outside the Sandton Police station where he laid a charge of violation of lockdown regulation due to disinformation against Somizi Mhlongo.
Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula outside the Sandton Police station where he laid a charge of violation of lockdown regulation due to disinformation against Somizi Mhlongo.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/Sunday Times

April 10 2020 - 19:22

'I'm not OK': Somizi speaks out after criminal charges opened by Mbalula

Entertainer Somizi Mhlongo has vowed to accept the legal implications of what he called a “very bad joke”, as the fallout over his lockdown extension comments continued.

On Thursday night, just before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the national lockdown would be extended by two weeks, Somizi revealed that very same piece of information.

The comment came on Metro FM co-host Dineo Ranaka's Instagram Live video saying that “Fikile” told him, in reference to transport minister Fikile Mbalula. The video was filmed while their show was on the air.

April 10 2020 - 19:20

Nkandla mayor arrested for allegedly breaching lockdown rules

Nkandla mayor Thami Ntuli has cried foul play after he was arrested for breaching national lockdown regulations on Thursday. 

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Friday, Ntuli - who is also the provincial chairperson of the IFP - said the municipality had embarked on a programme to hand out food parcels and hand sanitisers to street vendors.

He and six other municipal officials, including his deputy and the council speaker, were confronted by police.

April 10 2020 - 19:06

Ramaphosa 'instructed law enforcement agencies to work on' Ndabeni-Abrahams case: Cele

Police investigators have met with suspended communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and prosecutors over her apparent breach of lockdown regulations.

An audio clip of Cele speaking at an event in the Eastern Cape on Good Friday was sent to TimesLIVE. In it, Cele says that President Cyril Ramaphosa had not only acted against Ndabeni-Abrahams, but had also “instructed law enforcement agencies to work on that matter”.

April 10 2020 - 19:04

Global coronavirus death toll hits 100,000, cases over 1.6 million

The number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus reached 100,000 on Friday, as the tally of cases passed 1.6 million, according to a Reuters tally.

The first death came in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Jan. 9. It took 83 days for the first 50,000 deaths to be recorded and just eight more for the toll to climb to 100,000.

The toll has been accelerating at a daily rate of between 6% and 10% over the past week, and there were almost 7,300 deaths globally reported on Thursday.

The death toll now compares with that of London's Great Plague in the mid-1660s, which killed an estimated 100,000 people, about a third of the city’s population at the time.

April 10 2020 - 17:21

80% of the Western Cape's Covid-19 cases are in Cape Town

About eight of every 10 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape have been recorded in Cape Town.

In a statement Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that, as of Friday, the city had recorded 440 confirmed Covid-19 cases out of the overall 545 cases in the province. The figures differed from those given by health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who said there had been 451 confirmed cases in the province.

The majority of such cases have been recorded in the western and southern parts of Cape Town.

The province had also recorded three new deaths.

April 10 2020 - 17:07

'Huge' numbers of people stopped trying to get to homes in EC

“Massive” numbers of people travelling in minibus taxis, mostly from the Western Cape, attempted to enter the Eastern Cape on Friday.

Many travelled from Cape Town, but have been prevented from going any further after reaching the roadblock at Aberdeen and other entry points.

It is understood that some travellers have procured false death certificates. Lockdown regulations state people may travel between provinces if they need to attend funerals, provided they have the requisite documentation.

April 10 2020 - 16:13

Mkhize orders probe into how 48 nurses tested positive for Covid-19 at Durban hospital

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said an ongoing investigation into allegations of non-compliance at Netcare St Augustine's hospital in Durban will reveal how and why 48 nurses tested positive for Covid-19.

Speaking at a media briefing on Friday, Mkhize reaffirmed that the hospital had been closed, following his announcement earlier this week that 66 people at the private facility had tested positive for the virus. Forty-eight were nurses.

“That's a very large number of staff to be infected at a popular institution. Therefore, we have asked that the provincial government must institute an investigation in terms of why [and] how we ended up with so many people infected in one place — particularly if it's professionals,” he said.

April 10 2020 - 15:50

Mayor's exhortation to soldiers to shoot & race speech outrages SAHRC

An apology is not enough, the SA Human Rights Commission says, announcing it has opened an investigation into a Free State mayor, Nkosinjani Speelman.

Matjhabeng mayor Nkosinjani Speelman was suspended two days ago for using racially offensive language while addressing soldiers on the enforcing of lockdown rules in the mining town. In a statement, the ANC in the Free State said Speelman's comments were “racist and regrettable”.

The SAHRC said the mayor had referred to members of the coloured community in Bronville, Welkom, “using words that are not only offensive but may also negatively touch on their dignity as human beings”.

April 10 2020 - 15:41

Covid-19: Tension over food parcels in Nelson Mandela Bay

Some residents of Port Elizabeth threatened protests and to disrupt the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality from distributing food parcels to informal traders.

The traders have already lost two weeks of income due to the national lockdown to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

“Most of them cannot manage to put food on their tables,” said Thsonono Buyeye, the acting executive mayor. He said only informal traders on the city database would be assisted. More than 700 traders will be given groceries by their ward councillors.

April 10 2020 - 15:35

Covid-19: Mayors join salary challenge, Samwu says no ways

As Midvaal mayor Bongani Baloyi and Ekurhuleni's Mzwandile Masina announced they would donate a portion of their earnings to the Covid-19 campaign, SA's municipal workers union said it would not be participating in the salary cut challenge.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday night that he, his entire executive and provincial premiers will take a 33% pay cut for the next three months, as he extended the current lockdown to end-April. The money — which totals about R13.4m — will be donated to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund. He challenged others to follow suit.

April 10 2020 - 15:19

Everyone should wear a face mask, says Mkhize

The call is now clear: every South African should wear a mask.

And, said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Friday, they can be homemade, made of cloth or even just a carefully folded handkerchief.

“Wearing masks is important,” he said. “We want to recommend widespread use of masks. We are recommending that people can use cloth masks, just make sure there’s a three layer kind of thing.”

April 10 2020 - 15:13

The plight of Cape Town's homeless goes political

When Strandfontein ward councillor Elton Jansen was told his community would carry the burden of housing thousands of homeless people on the Strandfontein sports field, he was not happy.

He was not consulted, he said, and he admits it was a burden no councillor in any suburb in Cape Town would willingly bear.

“No councillor or any ratepayer would like a site for street people in their ward, understandably so, because there are a lot of underlying factors that are connected to street people. But we need to find a way to deal with this matter, and that is where I’m at now,” he said.

April 10 2020 - 14:27

SA Covid-19 death toll climbs to 24

There are now 24 confirmed deaths linked to Covid-19 in SA, half of them in KwaZulu-Natal.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize made the announcement in Durban on Friday afternoon. He also announced that there were now 2,003 confirmed Covid-19 cases across SA.

“As of today, the total number of tests conducted is 73,028. The number of confirmed positive cases is 2,003. Total number of deaths has risen to 24,” he said.

April 10 2020 - 13:06

Covid-19 likely to claim its 100,000th death this weekend

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

The spread: 100,000 deaths

In all likelihood the COVID-19 illness associated with the new coronavirus will claim its 100,000th death during the next 24 hours. From the report of the first fatality in early January, it took a month to record 1,000 deaths and a further month to hit 10,000. That was just three weeks ago.

The death toll now compares with that of London's Great Plague in the mid-1660s, which killed an estimated 100,000 people, about a third of the city’s population at the time.


April 10 2020 - 11:54

Cops must use restraint: Amnesty International after 'worrying' Covid lockdown claim

Human rights monitoring organisation Amnesty International says it is concerned about the SA government’s plans to ‘de-densify’ some informal settlements, after a “worrying” report about police conduct in a Western Cape camp.

GroundUp reported on Tuesday that homeless people at the Strandfontein Sports Grounds, Cape Town, were shot at with rubber bullets by police after they began to protest — breaking down a fence and throwing stones — about conditions at the tent camp. The facility was set up as part of the national lockdown to disrupt the spread of Covid-19.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith subsequently said it was untrue that rubber bullets were used.

April 10 2020 - 11:50

Somizi underfire as Mbalula lays charges

“We live in times when things cannot be joked about,” transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday as he opened a charge against entertainer Somizi Mhlongo at the Sandton police station in Johannesburg.

Hours before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that SA's Covid-19 lockdown would be extended until the end of April, Mhlongo had asserted that Mbalula had given him a heads-up on the extension. He subsequently apologised to Mbalula for his “joke,” saying: “I'm just like you, I did not know about it, I was just guessing.”

April 10 2020 - 10:50

Homeless try to escape from government shelter after lockdown extension

The extension of the national lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday was not welcomed by all as a number homeless people accommodated at the Strandfontein sports complex by the City of Cape Town tried to escape on Friday.

In a video captured by TimesLIVE photographer Esa Alexander, the homeless can be seen trying to jump the fence out of frustration at being on lockdown at the site.

The City had relocated them to the site to curb the spread of Covid-19.

April 10 2020 - 9:25

Covid-19: Worldwide call for ban on wildlife markets

Conservationists have welcomed the Chinese government’s ban on the consumption of wild animal products, but have voiced concerns it may drive sales underground.

This emerged during an online meeting of numerous international conservation organisations, hosted by the SA-based Blood Lions team this week.

Though not conclusive, evidence suggests humans may have contracted the coronavirus from consuming pangolins, which may have picked up the disease from bats.

April 10 2020 - 9:25

Lockdown extension to have 'huge' impact on economy, experts say

The extension of the national lockdown will have “huge” implications for the country's economy, experts say.

On Thursday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the initial 21-day lockdown would be extended by two weeks.

In his address, Ramaphosa said ending the lockdown would reverse the gains already made in the last two weeks.

April 10 2020 - 8:22

Good Friday in the time of the coronavirus

Good Friday for the year 2020 will go down in history like no other.

In other years, church goers would now have their church clothes ready, prepared to flood churches all around the country to mark what could easily be deemed the biggest day on the Christian calendar.

But as the coronavirus lockdown period continues, families under lockdown will be attending church differently this Easter period, with scores of people expected to rather gather in front of their television or laptop screens for their yearly dose of crucifixion and resurrection sermons.

April 10 2020 - 7:15

Mbalula to lay charges against Somizi over lockdown extension 'joke'

Minister of transport Fikile Mbalula will on Friday open a case against Idols SA judge Somizi Mhlongo for “name dropping and misinformation”.

This comes after a video surfaced online of Mhlongo telling his Metro FM colleague Dineo Ranaka that there would be a lockdown extension, just hours before it was officially announced by the president.

Mhlongo said he had heard the information from “Fikile”.

April 10 2020 - 7:10

EFF reps take salary cuts and welcome lockdown extension

The EFF has announced that all its public representatives will contribute a third of their salaries to the Covid-19 Solidarity Fund.

The announcement came less than two hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a similar contribution by himself, members of his cabinet, deputy ministers and premiers for the next three months.

Ramaphosa made the announcement while telling the nation that the nationwide lockdown had been extended by two weeks, taking us to the end of April.