South Africa

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #115: Amended regulations on schools published, the ANC condemns Covid-19 corruption and KZN suspends complicit officials

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 4 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. The Gauteng health department has not released these numbers since 2 August, when it published a notice that “data harmonisation” would delay the release of figures for that day. In addition, the Free State did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

After the exposure of corruption related to Covid-19, President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to catch these “hyenas” with a new “fusion centre” of government agencies. Ferial Haffajee writes that this at first came as a relief, but she then realised these latest corruption scandals would simply join the very long list of ANC mega-scandals still unaccounted for. As she writes: “…winning the fight against corruption does not lie with Ramaphosa but with the people whom it affects”. She contextualises the latest corruption in the timeline below:

Meanwhile, the ANC’s National Executive Committee has issued a statement saying that the party “is outraged and deeply embarrassed” by allegations that its members and leaders are involved in corruption related to the Covid-19 pandemic. It said it acknowledged “the justifiable public outrage”. It committed to investigating the allegations internally and supported the work of the Special Investigating Unit.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development has suspended top officials in the department after they were implicated in corruption relating to the procurement of blankets, sanitisers, wet wipes, soap, towels and personal protective equipment — all to be used in the province’s response to Covid-19. This comes after the provincial treasury conducted an investigation into the alleged corruption. The MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has said the money will be recovered.

The Department of Basic Education has gazetted newly amended regulations on the return to school. School management teams and principals are expected to be on duty to prepare for the return of other grades and to administer the national school nutrition programme. Teachers, on the other hand, will return as the grades do.

On 3 August, Grade 12 pupils returned to class. They will be followed by Grade 7 learners on 11 August.

On 24 August learners in grades R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11 will go back to school, as well as learners attending School of Skill in years 1, 2 and 3. 

On 31 August, learners in grades 5 and 8, and those in grades 4 and 5 at schools for learners with severe intellectual disabilities will return to class.

Schools can apply for a permit to accept a larger number of learners on one day, if they can meet the Covid-19 regulation requirements. Schools that cannot meet the requirements for the return to class can also apply to deviate from the gazetted timetable.

Parents and caregivers can still apply to the head of the provincial department to exempt a child from returning to school. 

As Ayanda Mthethwa writes, the new regulations also confirm that the school year will end in 2020, and not in 2021 as Ramaphosa had previously announced.

Last cohort of learners will go back to class on 31 August

Mthethwa provides a summary of free learner support programmes:

SABC learner support programme schedule: 

For the radio learning support programme, parents, caregivers and learners can access the following schedule: https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_documents/radio.pdf

Visit:https://www.education.gov.za which contains all learning resources, including study guides, video tutorials and free-rated websites with learning resources for pupils in all grades. You can access the website for free.

Many HIV-positive patients in the Eastern Cape survive Covid-19, webinar told

Meanwhile, doctors in the Eastern Cape have said many HIV-positive patients have survived Covid-19. The doctors work in a hospital where there are high rates of HIV infection and said during a webinar that they had not lost one patient to Covid-19 who was living with HIV and had no comorbidities. The majority of their patients who died from Covid-19 had both diabetes and hypertension. The doctors reported that they are using 100 cylinders of oxygen per weekend, and that they lost 10 patients in one day without oxygen supplies. As Estelle Ellis reports, the doctors said the hospital staff went for counselling for the trauma they experienced on this day. DM/MC

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