Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #44

More stranded South Africans fly home, Soweto taxi rank pilots new hygiene measures and police force hit hard by Coronavirus

Commuters ride in a minibus taxi in Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

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.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 12 May at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments:

* KwaZulu-Natal is not releasing district-level data.

On Tuesday, hundreds of stranded South Africans arrived in Johannesburg after approval was given for Qatar Airways repatriation flights to land. The flight was approved only on Monday, after being cancelled last week. As Peter Fabricius writes, only one out of the five flights which had been on the cards was given approval. However, the other four are still under consideration.



Meanwhile, police stations and officers continue to be hard-hit by Covid-19 in the Western Cape. The Khayelitsha Site B police station has been temporarily closed after a staff member who had tested positive for the virus returned to work without undergoing testing to confirm he no longer had the virus. 

As Karabo Mafolo reports, two other staff members have since also tested positive for the virus. This comes after the Muizenberg police station closed on Friday 8 May after staff were exposed to the virus.

There is about R900-million outstanding in April’s rates and service payments to the City of Cape Town. As Donwald Pressly writes, the City is walking “a budgetary tightrope” much like other metros and towns. However, the official opposition argues that it has the revenue stored to tide it by and should therefore provide rates relief and draw on its reserves.

In Gauteng, the taxi industry and the Gauteng transport and health departments are working together to pilot ways to combat the spread of Covid-19 at the Bara Taxi Rank in Soweto. One of the measures is sanitising steaming-mist booths which commuters pass through before boarding taxis, as well as a management team to enforce physical distance and mask-wearing. As Bheki C Simelane reports, it is hoped that the new measures will be rolled out to other taxi ranks if they prove successful.

 

In KwaZulu-Natal, accusations of ward councillors redirecting food parcels to specific people are mounting. Residents watch as some in their neighbourhoods get food, but others not, without explanation. Des Erasmus reports that in eThekwini, residents have accused councillors of distributing the parcels to friends and family, but fear opening cases with the police as they say they are concerned for their lives. 

Residents of Mahlabathini have accused their ward councillor of politicising food parcel distribution. The councillor denies the allegations, saying he is following the procedures required by the South African Social Security Agency. As Sumeya Gasa writes, residents have organised a list of the names of those who have not received help and handed it over to the councillor to attend to.

After nearly seven weeks of lockdown, some businesses continue to struggle to access the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s temporary employee relief scheme benefit. As Sandisiwe Shoba reports, businesses have had to contend with a crashing website and little communication on the progress of applications. Shoba spoke to business owners about their experience thus far.



South Africa’s game-farming industry is on the “brink of collapse”, according to Wildlife Ranching South Africa. Hunting, game viewing and sales have all but stopped under the lockdown. As Ed Stoddard reports, the incoming economic meltdown might create serious concerns about animal welfare.

Meanwhile, leeches have risen to the challenge and have helped scientists uncover what could possibly be another novel coronavirus. Tiara Walters talks us through the study, and whether the discovery matters. DM

Gallery

"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]"