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Mzansi COVID-19 on the rise

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Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has raised his concerns about the climbing figures of positive COVID-19 cases in South Africa.

“Over the past week, there has been an increase of 9.1% in new cases,” he said, adding that there has been an increase of 10.7% over the last 14 days.

The country now has 710 515 detected COVID-19 cases after 2 156 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus on Thursday, October 23.

Meanwhile, 102 more people succumbed to the respiratory disease pushing the death toll to 18 843.

“Of the 102 deaths reported today [Thursday], 20 occurred in the past 48 hours,” Mkhize said, adding that 25 788 tests were performed since the last report.

The Minister has once again urged citizens to continue to wear masks in public, wash hands frequently, and practice social distancing.

“Fellow South Africans, when we emphasise that the high risk of resurgence remains high, we do not do so to instil fear in you… The only weapon we have against COVID-19 is our social behaviour and constant adherence to health protocols,” Mkhize said.

According to Mkhize, the Western Cape Health Department has identified specific COVID-19 clusters that are responsible for the upsurge in that province which has sparked a 42% increase in the new infections.

“We must remain vigilant,” the Minister pleaded.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has appealed to all residents to continue to take the necessary precautions.

“We also call on businesses and places where people are allowed to gather, including churches and government buildings, to ensure that the necessary safety protocols are in place.”

According to the World Health Organisation, there are 41 104 946 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 128 325 deaths reported, globally.

Gauteng Health officials arrested for tender irregularities

Four former senior Gauteng government officials will appear before court for alleged tender irregularities committed at the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) in 2007.

This comes after the four were arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks) on Thursday morning, October 22.

The long drawn-out case by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation emanates from February 2007, wherein the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) submitted a proposal to the GDoH to continue with an information technology maintenance programme at the department.

In a statement, the Hawks said the total cost of such a project was meant to be no more than R57 million for a period of three years. 

“The contract was instead awarded to a private entity at a whooping cost of around R1.2 billion without following due tender procedures.”

The four former State officials – which included a former Head of Department (HoD), who was also an Accounting Officer at the time, Chief Director of Information Communication and Technology, Head of Supply Chain Management and the Deputy Director for Executive Support – allegedly received kickbacks for their role in ensuring that the contract was awarded to an undeserving entity.

The Hawks said two private company directors, who unduly benefited from the tender, are yet to be charged, along with their two companies.

“The said directors are reportedly outside of the country but steps have already been initiated to ensure that they are accounted for,” said the Hawks.

The former State officials are expected to appear at the Palm Ridge Specialiased Commercial Crime Court on today. They are to face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

COVID-19 cases rise to 708 359 with 85 deaths

The cumulative number of detected COVID-19 cases is now 708 359, with 85 more COVID-19 related deaths reported on Wednesday, October 21.

In the last 24 hours, 2 055 new cases were reported. Of the 85 deaths reported, eight occurred in the past 48 hours. The 85 deaths bring the national COVID-19 death toll to 18 741.

“We extend our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the healthcare workers who treated the deceased patients,” said the Minister.

The country’s recovery rate stands at 90%, with 641 706 people having recuperated.

The cumulative number of tests conducted to date is 4 607 883, with 26 537 new tests conducted since the last report.

Of the total cases, the Eastern Cape accounts for 92 566, Free State 54 238, Gauteng 226 073, KwaZulu-Natal 121 647, Limpopo 16 956, Mpumalanga 29 023, North West 32 202, Northern Cape 20 690 and 114 964 in the Western Cape.

The recoveries in the provinces are as follows: Eastern Cape 3 508, Free State 1 402, Gauteng 4 679, KwaZulu-Natal 3 160, Limpopo 440, Mpumalanga 592, North West 403, Northern Cape 256, Western Cape 4 301.

Health Minister calls for caution amid rising infections


Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has urged the public to take precautions to avoid a possible resurgence of high COVID-19 infections in the country.

The Minister, who together with his wife recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is under quarantine at home, said his department has seen concerning trends in the country’s infection rates.

“This morning, after reading and analysing our country’s epidemiological reports, as the Minister of Health, I cannot help but be concerned. Fellow South Africans, when we emphasise that the risk of a resurgence remains high, we do not do so to instil fear in you.

“As government, we have a responsibility to alert you when we see concerning trends. It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country,” said the Minister on Wednesday, October 21.

According to the Minister, the country’s epidemiological reports over the last seven days show an increase of 9.1% in new cases. Similarly, over the last 14 days, there has been an increase of 10.7%.

“We are also seeing concerning increases in some of the provinces. To illustrate this, in the last seven days, there was a marked increase in the number of new cases in the Western Cape.

“The province recorded a 42% increase in new infections. According to our resurgence plan, we define this significant spike in new cases in the Western Cape as a resurgence,” he said.

Super-spreader events grow infections

The Western Cape Provincial Health Department has identified specific clusters that are responsible for the increase in cases, and has advised that each of these clusters be investigated and a detailed outbreak response mounted.

The single biggest cluster outbreak was to be in the Southern Sub-district in the Cape Metro, and traced to a super-spreader event at a bar.

“We await further reports from the Western Cape Health response teams who are now required to target the sub-districts with a high increase of new cases over the last two weeks.

“We are now encouraging all provinces to pay attention to these increasing numbers and quickly mount a response, including contact tracing and quarantine,” said the Minister.

Mkhize said the rate of new infections and deaths will inform the recommendations that the Health Department makes to the National Coronavirus Council.

With the country still battling infections, the Minister urged citizens to continue to take precautions.

“As we continue to monitor the development of a vaccine, the only weapon we possess as a country is our social behaviour and constant adherence to health protocols. All of us must take this responsibility and always encourage those around us.

“We must also take heed of the major lessons from the COVID-19 that is despite the anxiety, the psychological trauma, the physical suffering and grief from lives we lost, COVID-19 has reawakened our deep values of Ubuntu in us all,” said the Minister.

Three unidentified bodies found in Katlehong

Katlehong Police are requesting community assistance in identifying three unknown deceased bodies that were found in Katlehong at different places.

The first unknown body is for the female who was found on April last year at Natal-Spriut river next to Sonwabo section.

Description: she is light in complexion, with bruises on her face, bite on top mouth lip and on her right eye. No other injuries on her body.

The second unknown body is a male who was also found at Natal-Spriut river next to Sonwabo section on April 17 last year.

Description: he is also light in complexion with dark hair and tall in hight, muscular body. No injuries.

The third unknown deceased body was found along the street at Khumalo section in Katlehong on August 24.

Description: black male who is about 32 years old who was found murdered with multiple of wounds all over his body and is suspected to be a mob justice victim by observation of his wounds.

Who to call?

Police are calling upon anyone who might be of assistance in locating the families of the deceased bodies to come forward as this will help both the families and the investigation to be concluded in due course.

Contact person is the investigating officer: Warrant Officer Mkhize at 082 487 8362 or alternatively Katlehong SAPS at 011 617 3600.

Primary school classes torched by angry community

primary school class burnt in Katlehong

Six mobile classrooms were set alight and the seventh one vandalised in the absence of scholars in Thabotona Primary School Tsietsi informal settlement in Katlehong on Monday, October 19.

Disaster and Emergency Management Services firefighters from Zonkizizwe fire station received the alert for the burning portable classrooms in the morning hours.

According to the information on scene, members of the school governing body (SGB) and the parents are demanding brick and mortar structures to be erected unlike mobile classrooms that are currently being used by learners. This spurred some community members to take the law into their own hands and set the container classrooms alight.

The current structure of the school is made up of the temporary classrooms that have been in place since the old building have dilapidated.

“On arrival of firefighters, six classrooms were already engulfed and destroyed by flames, some of school furniture, tables and chairs were found burning outside the classrooms as well. Preventative fire suppression was initiated stopping the flames from spreading to the entire classrooms and administration block.”

“The arrival of more firefighting resources from Hlahatsi and Wadeville fire stations respectively, proved to be handy in minimizing the damage,” explained the City’s emergency spokesperson William Ntladi.

No casualties were reported on scene from both firefighters and some of the school staff present at the time of the incident.

Police on scene have opened an inquest docket and are investigating the matter.

“Considering the classrooms congestion, the damage was reduced drastically. Water had to be shuttled to the areas with fire water tankers from the fire station in Zonkizizwe,” said Ntadi.


Deadline looms for filing returns at SARS branches

Individual taxpayers, who wish to file their personal income tax return at a South African Revenue Service, branch have until Thursday, October 22 to do so.

“The South African Revenue Service (SARS) reminds individual taxpayers, who wish to file their personal income tax return at a SARS branch, that the final day to do so is Thursday, 22 October 2020,” said SARS.

Taxpayers, who plan to file their returns at a branch, must first make an appointment to see a SARS branch consultant. This is due to COVID-19 restrictions, which are still applicable.

Taxpayers can book their appointment via the link https://tools.sars.gov.za/SARSeBooking, which is on the SARS website – www.sars.gov.za.

To assist taxpayers who file at branches, SARS has extended its branch operating hours until Thursday, 22 October.

On weekdays, SARS branches will open from 8am to 6pm.

Taxpayers can also ask a SARS agent to assist by calling 0800 117 277.

Taxpayers, who wish to file at a branch, must bring along all the relevant supporting documents such as their ID or driving licence, proof of residence, bank statement not older than three months, proof of income / pay slips / IRP5 and tax certificates.

However, taxpayers who use the electronic channel – eFiling – will have until 16 November 2020 to file their personal income tax return online.

Provisional taxpayers, who file electronically via eFiling, have until 29 January 2021.

Review: Thirteen Cents by Sello Diuker

13sents book by Sello Duiker
  • Title – Thirteen Cents
  • Author – Sello K Duiker
  • Genre –  Crime fiction
  • Publisher – Kwela Books 978-0-8214-2039-2
  • Accolades: Winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, Best First Book in 2001
Thirteen cents K Sello Duiker

About the book

Thirteen Cents is the debut novel by local author K. Sello Duiker.

It was published in 2000 to critical acclaim and immediate success in South Africa and abroad, winning the 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book, Africa. The story is narrated in the post-apartheid South African era and depicts the brutal reality of street children.

“Grow up. Fast. Very fast. Lightening speed. Everything is always like that. Quick. You must act quickly. Understand quickly. Otherwise someone will fuck you up nicely. They’ll beat you up so that you must always remember.”

Except from the book

Azure is a 12-year-old boy who is about to turn 13.

He struggles with issues of identity and belonging. After the murder of his parents he moved to Cape Town and started living on the streets. He sleeps near a swimming pool in Sea Point and later he moves to sleep under a bridge with hardcore criminals and junkies.

Life on the streets isn’t easy so he makes his money from picking up tricks and prostituting himself to married men who are in denial about their sexualities.

The streets have hardened him so he thinks of himself as a man rather than a teenager.

On the streets he gave himself the responsibility of looking after a boy named Bafana. He doesn’t agree with the choices that Bafana makes on the streets. He often gives him a tongue lashing for being on drugs. Unlike many street kids Azure hates drugs he only smokes Marijuana which he refers to as Zol.

Even though he has a soft spot for the 9-year-old Bafana he doesn’t want to get too attached to him. The brutality and trauma he experiences on the streets leads him to physically and mentally escape up in Table Mountain. While at the mountain through the supernatural he seeks to avenge himself. he spends a several nights on the mountain where he has dreams and visions.

Thirteen Cents is an emotionally taxing book. An unhappy ending. The book ends but the toxic conditions that street kids live in don’t. If you enjoy this read you’re most likely to enjoy Ben Okri’s, The Famished Road.

Compost bins donated to Phelang School

City of Ekurhuleni in partnership with paper and plastic recycling company MPACT donated gardening equipment

Phelang School for learners with special educational needs in Kwa-Thema is characterised by neat premises, well organised food garden and disciplined learners.

It is for this reason the school was chosen amongst many by the City of Ekurhuleni in partnership with MPACT, a paper and plastic packaging manufacturing and recycling company to receive food gardening equipment comprising of ten composters.

Composters are containers that supplying organic materials, water, and oxygen, the already present bacteria will break down the plant material into useful compost for the garden.

As the bacteria decompose the materials, they release heat, which is concentrated in the center of the pile.

The innovative devices were donated to encourage the school to generate their own compost, ten mixed fruit and indigenous trees, seedlings and gardening tools.

Tshepo Ledwaba, the school’s principal could not contain his excitement upon receipt of the equipment.

“When we started the food garden, we never anticipated that it will grow to make such a huge impact on the learner’s lives as well as in the community. We harvest vegetables from the garden and provide nutritious plates to the learners and educators,” he said.

Ledwaba said the project had also instil passion to the learners, with some even starting food garden in their homes.

He explained that the donation of ten composters will save the school some money, because now they would be able to generate their own compost.

“Previously we would buy compost from retail stores to fertilise their soil, but now there wouldn’t be any need for that,” he said.

The city through the department of Environment Resources offered school learners a crash-course on how to generate their own compost using vegetable peels and dried leaves.

Member of Mayoral Committee (MMC) For Environment Resources and Waste Management Services, Alderman Makhosazana Mabaso handed over the food gardening equipment and trees to the school.

“We are excited as the city to partner with MPACT towards encouraging our children at an early age in using waste compost. The programme will reinforce the culture of Re-Use and Recycle in their young minds, which will become sustainable practices in our communities and saving our environment for the next generations to enjoy” said MMC Mabaso.

Lesedi COVID-19 cases now over 2000

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

The recent growth in COVID-19 related cases and deaths has been most felt in the country’s epicenter, Gauteng.

As of Sunday, October 18 ,the cumulative number of cases in the province now stands at 224 863 with 200 353 recoveries and 4618 deaths.

The Lesedi Local Municipality in Sedibeng, encompassing areas like Heidelberg and Devon, COVID-19 cases are at 2001, with 1384 recoveries reported. Lesedi has not experienced a significant growth in cases recently, only reporting less than ten cases daily.

Throughout the Sedibeng District, cases have sharply risen, particularly in the Emfuleni municipality. Currently with 11564 recorded cases and 9376 recoveries, the area still remains with the highest number of cases in the district.

The statistical breakdown of COVID-19 cases recorded along with recoveries as of Sunday, October 17. Source: Gauteng Department of Health

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