Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #40

Prasa loses millions, IPID admits fault in oversight, and South Africans wait to hear about repatriation flight

Police in Johannesburg hand out pamphlets informing residents about Covid-19 during the national lockdown. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March when the national state of disaster was declared — and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide the essential snippets of information about Covid-19 in South Africa each day. Read on to get the full picture.

The 42 days of lockdown, with no trains running, has cost the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa about R199-million and stalled its construction and procurement projects, according to its administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo. As Suné Payne reports, Mpondo added that the agency is in discussions with trade unions this week on offering voluntary severance packages to workers. 

Meanwhile, IPID has admitted the police watchdog failed when it decided not to investigate the JMPD officers who allegedly stood by while SANDF members fatally assaulted Collins Khosa in Alexandra. IPID acting executive director Patrick Setshedi has said IPID investigators will be assigned to the case and submit a preliminary report by Friday. As Greg Nicolson writes, this is a small victory as Khosa’s family tries to hold authorities to account.

In addition, IPID has received 83 reports on police behaviour during lockdown in the Western Cape. They include two deaths, 52 cases of assault and 30 cases of police discharging their firearms, heard the Covid-19 oversight committee in the Western Cape legislature. As Suné Payne reports, it was also reported that police had used weapons including sjamboks, hammers and irons to assault people.

In Cape Town, the Department of Labour is planning to take City of Cape Town officials to court after one of its inspectors received a hostile response while trying to assess a metro police facility in the city. As Vincent Cruywagen reports, this may stop short of the courts as the two entities have agreed to meet next week.

On Wednesday morning, Sea Point resident Peter Wagenaar found his car on fire. It is still unclear why it was set alight. As Karabo Mafolo reports, Wagenaar has been using his car to provide meals for up to 100 homeless people in the suburb each day. However, some residents have not approved. 

In KwaZulu-Natal, the average price for a basic monthly food basket has increased by 7.8% (R250) in smaller local markets since March. This is according to research done by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group. As Shani Reddy reports, the cost of a domestic and personal hygiene products basic has increased by R49.09.

Meanwhile, Sandisiwe Shoba joined Gift of the Givers as they travelled to Nyanga, Crossroads and Langa to deliver 700 food parcels. Shoba writes of the challenges and partnerships of one of the world’s largest charity organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the latest part of a series of reflections by Young Maverick writers, Shoba reflects on the day:

“On Wednesday as the elderly were handed their food packs, some ululated and started dancing with joy, but over the fence were scores of people looking on who didn’t receive aid. The envy and pained looks on their faces was almost too much to bear. It’s a reminder of how crucial it is to give at this time. More than that, it’s proof of how stark the inequalities in our country are.”

Read the full article here.

John Hlangeni was the first person named to have died of Covid-19 in the Free State. Refilwe Mekoa spoke to his family and found out more about how the dead are treated in Mangaung.

Schoolchildren remain in limbo as a large question mark still hangs over the date of the resumption of school. Ayanda Mthethwa spoke to matric students about remote learning and what lies ahead. 

South Africans stranded abroad are at a loss now that five Qatar Airways flights have allegedly been cancelled. This is apparently because the South African government failed to give the flights clearance to land as it could not provide quarantine accommodation for those returning. However, as Peter Fabricius writes, the South African government has denied this.

The cash-strapped members of medical schemes will be provided with little help during the pandemic, reports James Stent. Medical schemes have chosen not to provide payment holidays for members – despite having large reserves for crises.

Harmony Gold is planning to issue new shares to the value of R3.7-billion in order to fund its purchase of the world’s deepest mine, Mponeng, from AngloGold Ashanti. Ed Stoddard explains why now.

In New Zealand, rugby is set to fire up again. However, this raises questions as to what will happen to the 2020 Super Rugby tournament. Craig Ray set out to find the answers. DM

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"