COVID-19 WRAP | Muslim Judicial Council doesn't want mosques to reopen just yet

28 May 2020 - 08:12 By TimesLIVE
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Image: GCIS

March 28 2020 - 09:57

Keep mosques closed 'for another month': Muslim Judicial Council

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is discouraging the reopening of mosques under level 3 of the lockdown.

Mosques, churches, temples, synagogues and other places of worship are allowed to open from June 1.

“Only those masajid should open up within the limits allowed by level 3 regulations that are able to afford, implement and rigorously enforce safety and sanitary procedures,” said the council.

May 28 2020 - 21:52

WATCH | Adoptions on hold: Shelters struggle with space for babies abandoned during lockdown

South Africa’s national Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in a dramatic increase in babies being abandoned. 

Like many other shelters, Door of Hope is struggling to cope with the demand. The shelter recently welcomed two new babies to their family, bringing the total number there to 73. The home is able to accommodate 76.

May 28 2020 - 20:27

60 days in and this is what we know about Zimbabwe's Covid-19 fight

Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 fight has so far been a mixture of hope, fear, poverty and mistrust in the government.

While figures in the past two months have been relatively low, they are starting to shoot up.

This is what we know about the Covid-19 situation in Zimbabwe:

Thursday marked the 60th day of the lockdown and it’s set to go on for many more days, if not months, after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the current level 2 was indefinite.

May 28 2020 - 20:17

Correlation between people who don’t listen and spread of virus: Bheki Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele said there was a correlation between the number of people arrested by his department and the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday evening, Cele said 243,164 people had been arrested since the start of the lockdown period. The bulk of them came from the Western Cape, which currently accounts for the significant majority of Covid-19 cases and deaths in SA.

“There is a relationship that is not very good here. Most of the people that have been arrested, they come from the hot areas. For instance, Western Cape leads in terms of the people that have been arrested, and then Gauteng is second,” said Cele.

May 28 2020 - 20:11

Domestic workers allowed to go back to work during level 3

Domestic workers can go back to work from June 1 - but only in circumstances where it’s safe to do so.

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel was asked during a briefing on Thursday whether this was possible under level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.

“They are able to return to work, subject to the health protocols being followed. Even as they return, it’s vital it’s done in circumstances where it can be done safely,” he said.

May 28 2020 - 18:50

Soldiers involved in Collins Khosa death not cleared: Mapisa-Nqakula

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says members of the army allegedly involved in the death of Collins Khosa have not been cleared.

Addressing the media on Thursday, Mapisa-Nqakula said the matter was not closed. This is despite a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) report that seemingly cleared the four soldiers who were involved in the altercation with Khosa.

Findings of the report became public when they were attached to an affidavit to the North Gauteng High Court by the SANDF to update the court of the steps taken to adhere to its orders.

May 28 2020 - 17:50

'Correlation' between lockdown arrests and Covid-19 infections: Cele

Police minister Bheki Cele said on Thursday that there was a correlation between the number of arrests for lockdown regulations and Covid-19 infections.

Speaking at a  press briefing on the new level 3 regulations, Cele said that 243,146 people had been arrested since the start of the lockdown. Of the cases linked to these arrests, 241,059 had been "processed" and 2,087 cases are still under investigation.

"Most of the people who have been arrested come from the hot areas. For instance, Western Cape leads in terms of the people arrested and leads in terms of people affected by the coronavirus. Gauteng is second.

"Three is a correlation between those people who don’t listen, and the spread of the virus," he said.

May 28 2020 - 17:30

Courts to focus on corruption, gender-based violence, violent crimes and lockdown breaches under level 3: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Thursday outlined which cases would be prioritised under level 3 of the lockdown.

"The department will prioritise urgent cases relating to corruption, sexual offences, gender-based violence and femicide, serious violent crimes, robbery, murder, assault, and violations of Covid-19 regulations for speedy resolution, where appropriate," she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said that courts would use audio-visual technology to conclude urgent cases.

"All cases which are not urgent will be postponed," she said.

The minister added that there had been "several allegations" of corruption relating to Covid-19 relief efforts.

"In response to these allegations, the [justice, crime prevention and security] cluster has developed a collaboration framework which will ensure prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and recovery of stolen assets and funds. Law enforcement officials have established an interim structure that will address all allegations of corruption and will ensure that those who are charged faced prosecution.

"There is a specific focus on Covid-19 related corruption matters in the courts, for efficient resolution - and these are listed as a priority," she said.

May 28 2020 - 17:22

Brace for more roadblocks in hotspot areas

Roadblocks will continue under level 3 of the lockdown, defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Thursday.

Speaking at a level 3 media briefing, she said that SAPS and other law enforcement agencies would continue to monitor local and inter-provincial movements by holding roadblocks on national highways, and rotating in suburbs, cities and towns.

“In hotspot areas, the JCPS [justice, crime prevention and security] cluster will conduct patrols, roadblocks and vehicle checkpoints. The law enforcement officials will enhance the relationship with community policing forums, provide expert advice and support various environments, caudon off identified health hotspots, conduct zero tolerance operations to ensure compliance, utilise the puplic order police, and conduct high density crime prevention duties,” she said.

May 28 2020 - 16:49

Don't rush back to shul, chief rabbi tells Jewish worshippers

Chief rabbi Warren Goldstein says synagogues in SA will remain closed until Jewish leaders have considered whether they can reopen safely and comply with regulations imposed under level 3 of the lockdown.

In a letter to the South African Jewish community on Thursday, Goldstein said the decision would not be made "without careful thought and deliberation".

"There’s a lot at stake - and it’s not something that can or should be rushed," he said.

May 28 2020 - 16:36

Nedbank Golf Challenge rescheduled to December

The European Tour has rescheduled the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City to December 3-6.

The tournament‚ one of four rescheduled Rolex Series events‚ will remain as the penultimate event of the European Tour season‚ organisers said in a statement on Thursday. 

May 28 2020 - 16:32

Moscow's new coronavirus cases fall to lowest in more than a month

The Kremlin on Thursday praised Moscow's authorities after the city reported its lowest daily increase in coronavirus infections since April 23, but some critics raised questions over some of Russia's reported data.

Officials say Russia's outbreak is stabilising and President Vladimir Putin this week rescheduled Moscow's postponed May 9 Victory Day military parade for June 24. Moscow will begin easing its lockdown on Monday. Many regions have already begun.

The wave of infections, the fallout from Russia's shutdown and low world oil prices have made the coronavirus one of the biggest challenges to Putin in his more than two decades in power.

Authorities reported 8,371 new infections on Thursday, pushing the nationwide tally to 379,051, the world's third highest after the US and Brazil. The death toll rose to 4,142 after 174 people died overnight.

The focus of the outbreak has been shifting to Russia's provinces from Moscow. The capital has been the worst-hit city so far but the number of new cases there fell to 2,054 on Thursday from a peak of 6,703 on May 7.

Russia's death toll is much lower than many other countries with similar case totals, something that has been questioned by critics and sparked debate. Authorities defend the figures and say they are more accurate than those of other countries.

- Reuters

May 28 2020 - 16:15

This is how government decides what a Covid-19 hotspot is

Most of the country's metro municipalities have been declared Covid-19 hotspots, Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Thursday.

She was speaking during the release of level 3 lockdown regulations.

The factors taken into account in determining whether an area is defined as a hotspot include:

  • The number of active cases per 100,000 population
  • The rate of increase in active cases
  • The availability of hospitals beds and related resources
  • Any other factor relevant for the containment of Covid-19.

May 28 2020 - 16:03

Cape chemical firm faces prosecution for 'doubling hand sanitiser price'

A Cape Town chemical company has been reported to the Competition Tribunal for excessive pricing on hand sanitiser during the Covid-19 disaster.

In a statement on Thursday, the Competition Commission said its investigation of Caprichem found that the company doubled the price of a 5l bottle of sanitiser from R262 to R527, including VAT.

Caprichem MD Robert Jonas told TimesLIVE the claim was untrue, saying his attorney was speaking to the commission about its statement.

May 28 2020 - 15:53

Projected Covid-19 deaths in Western Cape up to 9,300 by end of November

The projected number of deaths in the Western Cape has increased from below 5,500 to 9,300 by the end of November, according to the South African Covid-19 Modelling Consortium.

The data has changed since early modelling — based on how the virus has played out in other countries — to rely more on what is taking place in reality on the ground.

“We have been able to incorporate findings from hospitals,” said medical statistician Dr Sheetal Silal on behalf of the consortium, explaining the jump in figures in the model between early May and now.

May 28 2020 - 15:26

Lab explains false positive Covid-19 result at SABC

A private laboratory that initially said an SABC staff member had contracted Covid-19 but later confirmed he was negative explained on Thursday what went wrong.

The SABC released a precautionary communiqué and temporarily closed its Durban offices based on official lab results presented to its employee.

“The employee has since been alerted by the lab in question that an error occurred during the initial testing and the employee was presented with new test results, whose outcome was negative,” said the broadcaster on Wednesday.

May 28 2020 - 15:21

Allow cigarettes to be sold but ban alcohol, says Julius Malema

EFF leader Julius Malema on Thursday accused the ANC government of making an irrational decision by lifting the ban on alcohol when the country entered level 3 of the national lockdown on June 1.

Malema would rather the ban imposed on the sale of cigarettes be lifted and the ban on alcohol continue.

But the EFF leader contradicted himself on tobacco as he backs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

May 28 2020 - 15:10

Government opens door for pro sport in level 3 - and you can exercise between 6am and 6pm

It’s official: from June 1, you can exercise from 6am to 6pm.

But if you wanted to go for a surf, or run on the beach or at your local park, you are not yet allowed to.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said this on Thursday in announcing the level 3 restrictions, which kick in on Monday.

She said that “public training, fitness and recreation facilities” would remain closed.

However, she said that facilities “conducting non-contact sports matches, without spectators” can open.

May 28 2020 - 15:05

'By Wednesday, I am expecting effective teaching': Angie Motshekga

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga expressed confidence on Thursday that all teachers where schools had received sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) would report for duty on Monday.

“They haven’t indicated that if all their health requirements have been met, they [will not come], so I don’t want to even assume that they won’t come. I think they appreciate the importance for them to come to work. If they don’t come, I guess the rule will apply,” she said, referring to the "no work, no pay" policy.

May 28 2020 - 15:04

Cardiologist questions government ban aimed at smokers

There is no evidence that smoking would increase the transmission of the coronavirus, a cardiologist and antismoking researcher said on Thursday.

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos told radio 702 in an interview that he did not understand why SA had taken the decision to ban the sale of cigarettes.

“There is zero evidence that smoking will propagate or is in some way increasing the transmission of coronavirus. In fact, banning smoking in a pandemic can have very adverse effects.”

May 28 2020 - 15:02

Worshippers must wear a mask, not touch and stay 1.5m apart

Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has provided more details on the rules for places of worship when they open on June 1.

In announcing the new rules for religious gatherings on Thursday, Dlamini-Zuma said: “Religious gatherings in places of worship will be allowed from June 1, so long as health, hygiene and social distancing is observed. This means that we must maintain 1.5m between worshippers with the maximum of 50 congregants, should the chosen venue be able to accommodate such. If the venue is too small for 50 people at 1.5m apart, it means there should be [fewer] congregants at that venue.”

May 28 2020 — 14:50

Patel says most workplaces have measures in place to curb Covid-19

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said moving to level 3 was “the most significant opening of the economy”.

It also keeps open all parts of the economy that was allowed to operate under level 4.

“The lockdown has come at a great sacrifice to our people, our businesses ... but it has brought us valuable time to put a number of measures in place,” said Patel.

Most workplaces now have measures in place to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Level 3 is based on most South Africans being back at work, he said, adding that the government consulted "very, very" widely.

All delivery services will be open, including food deliveries. "You'll be able to get your grilled chicken," said Patel, in an apparent reference to the outcry against the sale of cooked food, such as "Woolworths chickens", during level 4.

On the opening of hairdressers, he said the government wanted to work closely with the industry to see what measures could be put in place to allow them to eventually open their doors.

Turning to alcohol sales and consumption, Patel said after "careful consideration" and "extensive consultation" with the industry, many of the players realised that the government's concerns were real.

"We built a deep understanding that this needs to be done carefully."

That was why alcohol sales were permitted only for off-premises consumption.

"So, to be consumed, essentially, at home."

May 28 2020 — 14:35

What's in and what's out under new regulations?

New regulations for lockdown level 3 allows for liquor sales during the day from Monday to Thursday, non-contact sport, exercise during the day (not in groups) and interprovincial travel for students. But the sale of cigarettes remains banned and restaurants, taverns and shebeens remain closed.

May 28 2020 — 14:23

Throwing a party can land you in jail

According to the new regulations published by the government on Thursday afternoon, anyone who “convenes a public gathering” under level 3, or who prevents a recognised official from enforcing the regulations, would be liable for a fine or imprisonment “for a period not exceeding six months” — or both a fine and imprisonment.

May 28 2020 — 14:10

Risk will be greater than before

The risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than before, said Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Nevertheless, the entire country will move to a national level 3 from June 1, she said on Thursday afternoon.

Schools will open in a phased approach, she said, adding that travelling between provinces for students would be allowed.

The curfew will be lifted and exercise will be allowed all day as long as it does not happen in groups.

According to regulations published by the government on Thursday afternoon, alcohol sales will be allowed from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm.

The transportation of liquor to licensed premises will not be allowed.

May 28 2020 — 13:58

IN QUOTES | 'Black people will die and no-one will know how' - Malema slams easing of lockdown

EFF leader Julius Malema held a media briefing on Thursday to discuss the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and easing of lockdown regulations. This as the nation prepares to move to level 3 of the lockdown on Monday June 1.

Malema took aim at some aspects of the government's handling of the pandemic so far and weighed in on the return of children to schools from next week.

May 28 2020 — 13:44

LISTEN | SA's salons await court's verdict on reopening

Since the implementation of the lockdown on March 27, many people have lost their jobs and sources of income. Among those affected are hairdressers who are self-employed and owners of small informal businesses who solely depend on the money they receive from clients.

LISTEN TO WHY SALON OWNERS WANT TO OPEN THEIR SALONS:

May 28 2020 — 13:40

Cabinet 'strongly denies' Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma makes lockdown rules

The cabinet has come out strongly against claims that an individual minister has single-handedly overruled her colleagues when it comes to lockdown regulations.

In a post-cabinet statement which gave a detailed outline of the process followed by the government before coming to decisions on the lockdown, the cabinet condemned the notion that decisions were not made collectively.

May 28 2020 — 13:06

Lockdown benefit: Kruger Park rhino poaching lowest since 2013

The environmental affairs department says the lockdown has resulted in a significant drop in rhino poaching.

Since the lockdown was put into place in March, fewer rhinos have been poached countrywide, resulting in the fewest rhinos poached in the Kruger National Park in a single month since September 2013.

May 28 2020 — 12:53

Cyril Ramaphosa to address crucial UN meeting on Covid-19 financing

President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address a UN high-level event which will explore how best to mobilise funds to help developing countries whose challenges have been worsened by the Covid-19 crisis.

The event — which will be jointly hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness — is centred on concerns that the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals may not be achieved if developing countries are not given adequate resources to support their Covid-19 response efforts.

May 28 2020 — 12:34

Thursday's level 3 lockdown briefings: five things we'd like clarity on

Minister of co-operative governance & traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel are on Thursday expected to outline the regulations which will apply to level 3 of the lockdown from June 1.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said the eased lockdown would allow various economic sectors to resume operations. He said ministers would provide details about the changes in regulations this week.

May 28 2020 — 12:28

WC education department verifying confirmed Covid-19 cases at schools

The Western Cape department of education said on Thursday that it was verifying all reports of confirmed Covid-19 cases at schools in the province.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer told eNCA on Tuesday that four schools in the province had recorded Covid-19 cases among returning teachers.

May 28 2020 — 11:32

Soldiers, police 'not responsible for death of Collins Khosa': SANDF inquiry

A lack of respect towards female soldiers and provocation were cited by a SANDF board of inquiry as the cause of a lockdown altercation before the death of Collins Khosa in Alexandra, Johannesburg.  

The board of inquiry found that soldiers and Johannesburg metro police who were  accused of killing Khosa at his home could not be held liable for his death.

May 28 2020 — 11:32

Eastern Cape provincial police commissioner beats Covid-19

Eastern Cape provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Liziwe Ntshinga has fully recovered from Covid-19 and has returned to work.

Ntshinga tested positive for the virus more than two weeks ago.

May 28 2020 — 11:18

Chatsworth police station expected to reopen after Covid-19 scare

The Chatsworth police station, south of Durban, is expected to be up and running again on Thursday after closing on Monday due to a Covid-19 scare.

This after a constable based at the station tested positive for the virus.

Police spokesperson Brig Vishnu Naidoo said the member had received her results on Monday and immediately informed her commander on the same day.

May 28 2020 — 11:15

Hospital 'starves' isolated patient for three days after suspecting she had Covid-19

A heavily pregnant Soweto woman relived her “nightmare” at a local hospital where she says she was treated with disdain and denied food for three days in isolation because she displayed symptoms of Covid-19.

Kgopotso Hlatshwayo is also heartbroken about the humiliation she was subjected to by her community, who suspected that she tested positive to the deadly coronavirus, SowetanLIVE reports.

May 28 2020 — 10:57

Eastern Cape slashes travel, subsistence budgets by 45% to fight pandemic

Travel and subsistence budgets in all Eastern Cape government departments have been cut by 45%, with the money being redirected to the department of health.

Speaking at a virtual plenary meeting on Wednesday, finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said this had been done to boost the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

May 28 2020 — 10:52

'We are not drunks,' say fuming KZN teachers after education MEC's 'slur'

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for education Kwazi Mshengu has apologised, saying his comment about teachers consuming alcohol was taken out of context and was not meant to offend.

During an interview on Ukzhozi FM on Wednesday evening, Mshengu was asked if the department was able to assure the safety of students and teachers. He said he was able to guarantee their safety in school but not outside.

May 28 2020 — 10:41

Tune in for clarity on level 3 rules from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma today

South Africans awaiting an easing of lockdown restrictions on Monday will obtain clarity on a range of issues including exercise times and alcohol sales shortly.

The government confirmed on Thursday that co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel will address a news briefing on the regulations from 2pm.

May 28 2020 — 10:33

Mmusi Maimane turns to crowdfunding in battle with government over schools reopening

Mmusi Maimane, through his One SA Movement, is taking the government to court over its decision to reopen schools on June 1, and has appealed to citizens for financial assistance to pursue legal action.

The planned court action follows the government's failure to respond to Maimane's letter asking for an explanation on its decision and a petition, which was signed by more than 160,000 citizens who are against reopening schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

May 28 2020 — 10:32

ANC to revisit 'RDP insights' of the 90s to revive economy after Covid-19

The ANC government will dust off old policies as it looks to rebuild a post Covid-19 economy that is “inclusive, resilient and sustainable”.

Treasurer-general Paul Mashatile told the Chatham House think-tank that the coronavirus has exposed gaps in the provision of infrastructure and basic needs such as health care, education, public transport, roads, water and housing.

May 28 2020 — 9:39

'Your anxiety shouldn't determine the future of other children': Motshekga to parents

“Your anxiety should not determine the future of other children whose parents do want their children to go to school.”

These are the words of basic education minister Angie Motshekga to parents who have expressed anxieties about sending their children to school during the Covid-19 pandemic.

May 28 2020 — 9:34

Anxiety and over-eating cited in lockdown poll, and yes, we're smoking more

Anxiety, overeating and under-exercising, insomnia and depression are all seen as problems arising as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in SA.

Only three in every ten online South Africans (30%) polled by Ipsos indicated that they do not suffer from any of the listed conditions. Males were slightly less open to answering the question than females were.

May 28 2020 — 9:05

Mmusi Maimane wants to commission Dali Mpofu to fight school reopening

Founder of the One South Africa movement Mmusi Maimane announced that he intends taking government to court over the reopening of schools on June 1.

A week ago, the former opposition party leader initiated a petition to pressure government not to reopen on June 1.

Maimane called on government to only reopen schools in about three months' time.

May 28 2020 — 8:34

School feeding programme to resume from Monday

Children who previously qualified for the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) will receive school meals or food parcels when schools reopen, Equal Education and the department of basic education said in a joint statement.

This after civil rights advocates raised concerns over the halting of the NSNP during the nationwide lockdown.

May 28 2020 — 8:16

Councillors to get pay hike from July, urged to donate to Covid-19 relief

In line with a national agreement, municipal councillors will receive a pay hike from July.

This is according to a city statement on Cape Town's budget presentation, but is applicable across the country.

Mayor Dan Plato said during a budget discussion to council that a SA Local Government Association (Salga) increase of 6.25% for staff is included in the 2020/21 budget as per Bargaining Council agreements, and applies nationally to all municipalities.

May 28 2020 — 8:00

Motshekga visits schools ahead of reopening

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is expected to visit at three schools in Gauteng on Thursday to check the progress made in preparing for reopening on Monday.

May 28 2020 — 6:45

'Let those who want to be at church do what works for them': Mboro defends churches reopening

Incredible Happenings church leader Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng has weighed in on the reopening of churches and other places of worship from June 1, claiming they are an essential service to those who rely on them for emotional and spiritual support.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday evening that places of worship could hold services from June 1, if they follow safety protocols. These include limiting the amount of people to 50 or less, sanitising buildings before and after services, and social distancing.

May 28 2020 — 6:00

Old Mutual converts office space to quarantine facility as Western Cape cases climb

Covid-19 deaths in the Western Cape, South Africa’s most infected province, reached 387 on Wednesday after 30 more people died in the last 24 hours.

The total cases in the province increased to 16,551 — an increase of 795 cases since Tuesday.

According to Western Cape premier Alan Winde, 8,504 people have recovered while 7,660 cases remain active — a steady increase since Tuesday’s total of 7,555.

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