Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #48

High Court orders major changes to security forces’ conduct – and tertiary education gets a roadmap

epa08419774 A South African National Defense Force (SANDF) soldier directs and checks the movement of a man in Cape Town, South Africa, 13 May 2020. The Western Cape of South Africa is the worst hit province with the city of Cape Town the epicentre of the virus. South African is on a risk adjusted phased lockdown of the country to try stem the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes the Covid-19 disease. South Africa has some of the most severe lockdown rules in the world including no jogging or walking outside of homes except between 6-9am, no sales of alcohol or cigarettes, no walking of dogs, no leaving home except for essential journeys with heavy penalties for transgressors. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

On Friday, a High Court judge ordered the SANDF and SAPS to change their abusive behaviour during a ruling on the death of Collins Khosa. Meanwhile, TVET and university students got a clearer picture of the academic year and the Eastern Cape Department of Health promised to improve the management of personal protective equipment in public hospitals.

  

 

 

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 14 May at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments, however the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape did not provide updates by the time of publishing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The family of Collins Khosa won a major victory in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday. Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that the SANDF, SAPS and JMPD officers who were present when Collins Khosa was allegedly tortured and killed in Alexandra in April must be suspended. In addition, authorities need to complete their investigations into his alleged killing by 4 June.

The judge instructed authorities to issue and widely share a new code of conduct to guide lockdown operations. They need to publicly state their commitment to upholding the right to life, the right to dignity and the right not to be subjected to torture or unusual punishment. The government was also ordered to publish general social distancing guidelines and explain how they will be enforced.

Judge Fabricius said government leaders, such as Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Police Minister Bheki Cele, had not clearly condemned abuse by security forces.

As Greg Nicolson reports, Fabricius agreed with Khosa’s family “that there is no existing mechanism capable of conducting prompt, impartial and effective investigations of lockdown brutality” and ordered the government to establish a new reporting mechanism for the lockdown.

Read the judgment in full here.

Craig Ray reports that Friday was a day of heightened drama for South African rugby. The Springboks’ July Tests were postponed due to Covid-19 concerns and a number of big-name players announced they were leaving the country.

The tertiary academic year is set to end by, at the latest, April 2021, Parliament heard during a briefing on Thursday. The Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has said the academic year will be restarted with a form of remote “multimodal” flexible teaching and learning from 1 June. Only final year medical students will return to campuses under lockdown Level 4. Under Levels 3 and 2, more students will return. By Level 1 all would be back in the lecture halls.

Sandisiwe Shoba reports that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges will reopen their campuses from the first week in June or in July. This will have major ramifications for when Trimester 3 will take place.

Representatives from the Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini metros headed to Parliament to discuss their Covid-19 plans. Among the concerns of members of parliament was how service delivery would be affected by a drop in income for municipalities. As Suné Payne reports, the five-hour session produced little in the way of revenue figures.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health says it has improved its system of managing personal protective equipment in public hospitals since the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, visited the province recently. The superintendent-general of the department, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, admitted that Mkhize pointed out “that we were not really doing our job well”.

Since then, the department has started an internal audit of stock, promoted the “rational use of PPE” and aims to keep up a minimum of four weeks’ supply of essential PPE. As Estelle Ellis writes, orders for more stock have been placed. Mkhize said he is satisfied with the improvements.

Mbengashe said his department expects infections to peak between June and August in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Daily-Digest-Port-Elizabeth: A slide from a presentation to President Cyril Ramaphosa during his visit to Nelson Mandela Bay during the Covid-19 lockdown. It indicates the Covid-19 “hotspots” in the city. Source: Eastern Cape Department of health.

At least 30 Covid-19 survivors in South Africa are donating their blood in the hope that it can be used to help those who have mild or severe forms of Covid-19. A large clinical trial will be launched in June to see if their plasma, once separated from the blood, can help patients by providing them with antibodies through transfusion.

The trial seeks to understand whether or not the immune system of Covid-19 patients can be boosted through such transfusions. “These donors, our unsung heroes, will add to the information and science we need now to save lives. People are scared and fake news is adding to the fear. These survivors want to help,” says Marion Vermeulen, a biomedical scientist from South Africa’s National Blood Service who is leading the trial. DM

 

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