COVID-19 WRAP | SA's Covid-19 cases surpass 13,000 mark & Durban Bishop confesses to violating lockdown rules

15 May 2020 - 07:18
By TimesLIVE

May 15 2020 - 20:40

Durban Bishop confesses to violating lockdown rules, pays for his ‘sin’ in court

A KwaZulu-Natal bishop whose family believed he was praying in solitude in the mountains with only fruit for sustenance has confessed in court that this was not true.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Bishop Bheki Ngcobo appeared in the Durban magistrate’s court on Friday for failing to confine himself to home during the lockdown.

"During Covid-19 policing operations in preventing gatherings over the Easter period, the police went in search of Ngcobo to obtain a warning statement but could not contact him."

May 15 2020 - 20:24

SA Covid-19 death toll rises to 247

SA has recorded 13,524 positive cases of Covid-19 as of Friday.

The health ministry said on Friday evening that the national death toll had climbed to 247.

There were nine Covid-19 related deaths since the last figures were released on Thursday.

The ministry said that  421,555 tests had been conducted, with 18,537 done in the last 24 hour cycle.

May 15 2020 18:47

Lindela Repatriation Centre guards hand themselves over after mass escape

Seven security guards who allegedly abandoned their posts at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on the West Rand last week, leading to the escape of 37 people awaiting deportation, handed themselves over to the police on Friday.

They arrived at the Krugersdorp police station accompanied by their lawyer, said police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele.

“They were arrested and released on a warning. They will appear at the Krugersdorp magistrate's court on Tuesday,” said Makhubele.

May 15 2020 - 18:33

'A government drunk on power': Zille on Disaster Management Act provisions

The DA believes the Disaster Management Act used to enforce the lockdown and its regulations is unconstitutional and has allowed government to effectively run a dictatorship.

The party’s federal chair Helen Zille said on Friday the act allowed government to run a dictatorship without having to consult MPs about the regulations put in place.

May 15 2020 - 18:28

'Nedlac committed to swiftly migrate to level 3': Presidency

May 15 2020  - 18:01

Solidarity Fund spends R1.2bn on Covid-19 PPE

The Solidarity Fund has disbursed more than half of the R2.1bn it has raised for the acquisition of personal protective equipment (PPE) and to roll out food relief for vulnerable households affected by the coronavirus.

The fund was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March to pool financial resources to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and contain the disease’s social and economic effect on citizens, reports BusinessLIVE.

Nomkhita Nqweni, CEO of the fund, said in a virtual media briefing on Friday that of the R2.1bn disbursed, R1.2bn went to buying about 35-million pieces of PPE such as surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves and ventilators. The intention is to ramp up the acquisition to 55-million pieces, she said.

May 15 2020 - 17:41

SIU to go after Covid-19 linked corruption cases

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) wants a national proclamation in order to go after corruption cases related to Covid-19 in SA.

Its head advocate Andy Mothibi revealed this to MPs during a meeting of the parliamentary justice and correctional services portfolio committee.

“Because of the number of the allegations we have received ... we are pursuing a national proclamation because there are other big ticket issues related to procurement that we are of the view that need to be looked at,” said Mothibi.

May 15 2020 - 16:17

WATCH | Donald Trump tours mask distribution centre but doesn't wear one

May 15 2020 - 15:52

Lockdown will claim 200,000 jobs in Western Cape even if eased - Winde

More than 200,000 jobs will be lost in the Western Cape alone due to the hard lockdown and level 4 restrictions, even with the gradual lifting of restrictions over time.

That was the stark warning on Friday by premier Alan Winde, who warned of an “unprecedented humanitarian disaster” unfolding as families, unable to work, were going hungry.

“I want to be very clear on this point: a job is not just a nice-to-have. It is for many people the difference between putting food on the table, and starving. Job losses cannot simply be dismissed as a necessary outcome for the greater good. Job losses mean malnutrition, starvation, increases in crime and, in the long term, premature death.”

May 15 2020 - 15:27

May 15 2020 - 15:16

Lockdown leaves thousands of newborns without birth certificates

Nearly 100,000 children born during the lockdown do not have birth certificates.

Home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said all birth registrations stopped when the lockdown started but registration services had resumed a week ago.

According to the Children's Institute at the University of Cape Town, an estimated 20,000 children are born every week in SA.

With the initial birth registration freeze, the number of unregistered newborns could be in the region of 100,000.

May 15 2020 - 14:54

Mpumalanga police station shut as cop tests positive for the coronavirus

A constable attached to the national public order police reserve unit in the Emalahleni municipal area of Mpumalanga has tested positive for Covid-19.

As a result, the Witbank police station is no longer open to the public while health protocols are activated, the SA Police Service reported on Friday.

“I can confirm that a constable attached to the national public order police reserve unit deployed at Witbank had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus,” said national spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo.

May 15 2020 - 14:51

Prison official dies from coronavirus in Western Cape

The department of correctional services (DCS) on Friday confirmed that a person employed at a Western Cape prison has died of the coronavirus.

“The DCS is greatly pained and saddened to confirm the death of an official based in the Western Cape. We convey condolences to the family of the deceased and his colleagues,” said department spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo.

The fatality was reported on Thursday.

May 15 2020 - 14:44

Gauteng records 61 new cases of Covid-19

Gauteng has 2,135 cases of Covid-19 after recording 61 new cases, the provincial department of health said on Friday.

It also revealed that of the reported cases, 1,552 have recovered.

May 15 2020 - 13:18

Ramaphosa demonstrates air travel hygiene measure before boarding flight

President Cyril Ramaphosa demonstrated how hygiene measures for travel may change once the ban on air travel has been gradually lifted.

May 15 2020 - 13:18

Here's what’s driving Covid-19 infections in Nelson Mandela Bay

Shopping malls, SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices, funerals and private hospitals — these are the drivers of Covid-19 infections in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Motherwell was singled out as the hotspot in the city, with 79 cases registered by Thursday.

It is followed by KwaDwesi with 52 cases, reports HeraldLIVE.

May 15 2020 - 13:18

Court rules in favour of Collins Khosa family & declares all have right to life

The high court in Pretoria on Friday declared that all people within SA are entitled to a number of rights which cannot be suspended, even during the Covid-19 state of disaster.

These include the right to life, the right not to be tortured in any way and the right not to be treated or punished in an inhumane and cruel way.

The court made these orders in an application brought by the family of Collins Khosa, the 41-year-old man who died after he was allegedly beaten by soldiers and metro police outside his home in Alexandra on April 10.

May 15 2020 - 12:47

Presidency plans cellphone app to complement hotline service to public

The presidency has developed a cellphone application which will be launched in the current financial year for the public to lay complaints, make suggestions and report incidents.

This is according to deputy minister in the presidency Thembi Siweya, who on Friday visited the presidential hotline team to check its effectiveness.

The app will be downloadable from app stores. There will also be WhatsApp and SMS services.

May 15 2020 - 11:41

New DG of health is 'well equipped to tackle NHI & Covid-19 challenges'

The national health department has appointed Dr Sandile Buthelezi as its incoming director-general.

“Dr Buthelezi promises to bring a wealth of knowledge to the national department of health at a crucial epoch in the trajectory of South Africa’s health system,” the department said on Friday.

“The lessons we’ve learnt from dealing with HIV in South Africa are coming in handy as we are dealing with Covid-19, specifically when it comes to community-based testing, screening and testing,” Buthelezi said.

May 15 2020 - 10:59

Feel good Friday as Sassa begins to distribute R350 unemployment grant 

The SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) says it has received more than 3.5-million applications for the Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant.

Sassa said it had started taking applications on Monday.

“As of Thursday, 3,585,040 applications were received. Of this, the largest number of applications were made using the USSD SMS line (3,294,949) and 204,434 on the website,” Sassa said in a statement.

May 15 2020 - 9:43

Surnames could dictate when you can buy booze: here is what you need to know

The Liquor Traders Association of SA (LTASA) has submitted a detailed plan to government outlining protocols around the sale of alcohol during lockdown.

The association, which represents 1,410 liquor stores that employ more than 14,000 people, recommended a system based on the surnames of consumers to maintain and ensure social distancing.

May 15 2020 - 9:18

From a dual income to dololo earnings: this couple's rent, food & chronic medication is at stake

She has a rare autoimmune disease and can't afford the necessary blood tests.

She's in the hotel industry and he works in fitness. So when lockdown regulations were implemented, both were hit hard by the sudden loss of income.

Not only have they had to ask for relief on their bills, they only eat two small meals a day and have cut out critical medical care to save cash.

May 15 2020 - 9:01

Lockdown poses 'threat' to political, economic freedoms of South Africans

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has warned that the “economic damage” from the lockdown will be catastrophic, particularly for poor South Africans.

“Now that it has become clear that the lockdown is not a temporary phenomenon but a fixture for the foreseeable future, it is all the more vital to examine the threat it poses to the political and economic freedoms of all South Africans,” said Dr Anthea Jeffery, head of policy at the institute.

May 15 2020 - 8:51

Youthful population will protect Africa, but 190,000 could still die from Covid-19: WHO

Nearly a quarter of a billion Africans will catch coronavirus during the first year of the pandemic, and up to 190,000 will die unless urgent action is taken to control the infection.

A model by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa office, published on Friday in the British Medical Journal Global Health, predicts a lower rate of exposure and viral spread than in other parts of the world, and up to 190,000 deaths.

May 15 2020 - 8:36

New policies clarify who must pay for Covid-19 tests

People covered by medical schemes no longer have to pay for negative Covid-19 tests done in the private sector, as long as they are referred by a doctor or nurse.

A Covid-19 test administered by Pathcare, Dis-Chem, or Ampath costs about R850 and it takes two to three days to get a result. A test through the state-owned National Health Laboratory Service is free to the patient, but the backlog for results is about a week.

May 15 2020 - 8:15

WATCH | Centurion residents queue for kilometres to receive food parcels

Ten thousand food parcels were handed out to residents “crippled by the economic consequences of the Covid-19 lockdown”, social activist Yusuf Abramjee said.

The parcels included mealie meal, vegetables, face masks, sanitiser and soap.

May 15 2020 - 8:00

R140 for packet of cigarettes in Soweto | Impact of Covid-19 lockdown ban

“I think the government is violating the rights of smokers by banning cigarettes. It is my money and health and I have a right to decide when to quit,” says Veli Hlongwane from Mzimhlophe in Soweto.

“I do adhere to the rules of Covid-19 lockdown ... If a friend asks for a smoke I give because it is their risk not mine, but I don’t ask for a skyf any more,” he says.

“The price of a Savannah fag jumped from R1.50 to R4 and the cheapest RG fag jumped from 50 cents to R3.50 ... I smoke three Savannah fags per day, which is R12 a day. The government should reconsider the ban of cigarettes,” says Hlongwane.

Sandile Mtshali from Meadowlands zone 11, is a young spaza shop owner with a liquor licence. He says he has lost R25,000 in profits due to the ban of cigarettes and alcohol, and he has not received any assistance from the government financially.

“I continued trading until I was arrested by police for selling fags and beer during the lockdown. I’ve learnt my lesson and I won’t be on the wrong side of the law again,” says Mtshali.

May 15 2020 - 7:59

'I've been to places I shouldn't go to get my cigarette fix': desperate smoker

A lifelong smoker has penned a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, pleading with him to lift the ban on the sale and distribution of cigarettes and tobacco products.

The letter was also shared with TimesLIVE.

May 15 2020 - 7:20

Companies are ‘refusing’ to apply for Covid-19 relief for staff

Some companies in SA are allegedly refusing to apply for the government’s temporary employer-employee relief scheme (Ters), leaving workers cash-strapped in the lockdown.

The SA Payroll Association (Sapa) said it has received several complaints from employees whose salaries have been cut, but their employers have not tried to claim from the labour department’s Ters.

According to the association's president, Arlene Leggat, many employers who have not applied for these funds believed that they would not receive them.

“There is a lot of negativity about the Ters and the government’s ability to process payments.

May 15 2020 - 7:15

Virus could infect more than 200 million in Africa

The new coronavirus could kill 150,000 people in Africa in a year unless urgent action is taken, according to a WHO modelling study that says nearly a quarter of a billion people will be infected.

Authors of the research, published Friday in the journal BMJ Global Health, predicted a lower infection rate than in other parts of the world like Europe and the US, with fewer severe cases and deaths.

But while they said many African nations had been swift to adopt containment measures, they warned that health systems could still quickly become overwhelmed. 

May 15 2020 - 6:54

New COVID-19 cases on US carrier despite extensive screening

Five US sailors have been evacuated with coronavirus from an aircraft carrier despite extensive screening as the warship prepares its return to sea following a major outbreak, a US official confirmed Thursday.

After testing positive but asymptomatic, the five spent two weeks in quarantine in Guam where the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt is docked

May 15 2020 - 6:30

New moms struggle to register babies at Home Affairs

New mothers in Johannesburg have expressed frustration at being unable to get their babies registered, due to either long queues or closed Home Affairs offices.

May 15 2020 - 6:02

Lockdown forces SA motorists to go from ballin’ to budget rides

The lockdown has pretty much killed the freewheelin' spirit in SA.

With incomes slashed, car lovers are doing smart trade-ins and going for cheaper models.