Lockdown Level Four looms with schools told to reopen classrooms

A deserted play area at a primary school in Melville, Johannesburg, during lockdown Level 5. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March, and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide the essential bits of information about Covid-19 in South Africa each day. Please do read on to understand these issues more deeply.

There were more than 70,000 submissions commenting on the proposals put forward by government to ease South Africa’s lockdown, according to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during a briefing by the National Command Council on Wednesday evening (29 April).

She announced several details of lockdown Level Four restrictions which come into effect on Friday, 1 May. Some changes have been made regarding the sale of goods, movement, exercise, and a curfew.

In addition, government received submissions from 850 businesses. Minister of Trade and Industry Ibrahim Patel spoke of how businesses will need to prepare if they are to open during Level Four. He expanded on the list of goods which can be sold and the sectors which will be fully or partially opened.

Meanwhile, it was announced that schools will tentatively start classes again from Wednesday 6 May. According to the plan, Grade 12 and Grade 7 pupils will be the first to return next week. Thereafter, other grades will follow at two-week intervals.

The department said provinces have already started preparing hygiene and sanitation packages for the schools and pupils. As Ayanda Mthethwa writes, the department addressed issues of water, classroom overcrowding, transport and teacher capacity. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga is expected to officially announce the plan on Thursday 30 April.

As lockdown continues, the number of gender-based violence cases has been increasing, said Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu during a briefing on Wednesday. She said the government is not moving swiftly enough to help women get out of abusive situations.

The GBV Command Centre has hired additional social workers and coordinated with civil society to create additional referral pathways to assist people faster.

As Estelle Ellis reports, the minister also commented that the child support grant “is below the poverty line” and needs to be reassessed. She provided details on other grants, including the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.

It has come to light that the installation of water tanks in communities around the country has been hampered by the fact that lockdown regulations cut off access to bricks and cement, according to Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. She added that the problem has been solved. As Estelle Ellis reports, only 9,000 tanks out of 17,000 delivered to municipalities have been installed so far.

Civil society organisations have stepped up to the plate during the lockdown. From delivering water to distributing food, they are spread nationwide and tackle nearly every need. As Sandisiwe Shoba and Karabo Mafolo write, civil society organisations have stepped up to the plate – and now it’s your turn. Read more about how your donations can help.

Meanwhile, the Strandfontein relocation camp for the homeless in Cape Town will be closed on 30 April, according to an email between councillors seen by GroundUp.

This comes after the South African Human Rights Commission found that the site violates human rights and should be closed immediately and after organisations applied to the Western Cape High Court to have it closed and declared to be in violation of regulations.

Refugees who have been accommodated in temporary shelters in Bellville and Wingfield in Cape Town are still stuck in limbo. As Sandisiwe Shoba writes, they have been caught in the middle of a bureaucratic tussle with no one authority taking responsibility for their well-being. DM.


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