NATIONAL NEWS - Residents who decide to leave Gauteng today may find it difficult to come back in the coming days depending on the announcement to be made by the security and justice cluster later today regarding the lockdown period.
This is according to Gauteng Premier David Makhura, who was speaking at a Gauteng government briefing to update the public on the provincial government’s plans for the lockdown period.
He also raised concerns about the fact that there are two ports of entry in the province accessed by air – OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport – and that these make Gauteng more vulnerable given the province’s status as the epicentre of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak.
As a result, he urged Gauteng residents to remain at home and in the province for the next 21 days.
Additionally, he cautioned those looking to travel that if they did so, they might be taking the virus to the most vulnerable members of our society.
He acknowledged the province’s large population of “urban-poor and food-insecure people” whom he deferred to Panyaza Lesufi for regarding the province’s plans for these groups.
Makhura acknowledged the various declarations of people looking to donate but stated that the province would not be accepting cash and that food packages and other essential goods were welcome.
“We have been inundated with NGOs that want to provide support,” said Panyaza Lesufi in his capacity as acting MEC for social development.
According to Lesufi, the department has established a central warehouse to attend to and house these contributions. Additionally, the province’s government will also provide transport and personnel to collect contributions which they will then inspect and vet before distributing them.
“We are now relocating all willing homeless people into our schools. There are schools that have boarding facilities,” added Lesufi.
He went on to list various areas in the province which had been identified as areas with large populations of homeless people who need accommodation during the lockdown. They are as follows: Roodepoort, Midrand, Sandton CBD, Hyde Park, Auckland Park, Booysens and Brixton. In the Eastern corridor: Boksburg, Kempton Park, Benoni, Germiston, Alberton, Brakpan and Springs. In Tshwane: the city centre, Centurion, Silverton, Sunnyside, Menlyn, Lynwood, Cullinan and Bronkhorstspruit. The Western region only had the Randfontein CBD and Krugersdorp identified.
Lesufi confirmed that there was a long list of schools with boarding facilities which would be made available to house these groups during this period and added that the list would be published in due course.
The MEC went on to address concerns regarding people in informal settlements and people whom he referred to as “trapped in areas where there will be no economic activity”.
To assist these people, 235 food distribution centres have been given the green light to operate during this period. These are centres that have already been distributing food for those with no access to food.
“Instead of providing people with food for a week supply, they are now giving them a month supply.”
Lesufi explained that the groups that will be assisted by these centres have been arranged according to:
1. School-going children who rely on schools for food. They will be served by the same distribution centres to provide food for kids and the homeless.
2. Young girls, women and homeless individuals who rely on dignity packs that usually contain essential toiletries. The packs will now contain sanitizers, masks and gloves.
3. Sick people who require home care will be served Gauteng’s 3,800-strong contingent of community development workers who will be carrying support machinery with them in the course of their duties.
4. People who rely on the province’s soup kitchens. They will be given takeaways to avoid a mass gathering and an additional time slot will be added to meet the demand created by this period.
5. Abused women will be served by shelters – 24 in total – which will also provide them with dignity packs as well as shelter and food.
Lesufi concluded by sharing a call centre number for people to alert the government of the province’s underserved at-risk groups so that social workers can attend to them
Reports can be logged at: 0800 428 8364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
With regards to education, Lesufi said that he believed the extended holidays had completely disrupted the academic calendar and said that the government was considering the possibility of scrapping the June holidays completely in order to mitigate the impact of the lost school days.
He also shared details regarding three catch-up programmes they were looking to implement for this.
Lesufi announced that the national department of education had finalised an agreement with Multichoice to air two educational channels from 1 April 2020 onwards to teach at-home learners priority subjects.
He added that Telkom and Vodacom have provided a zero-rated education platform free of charge and that the government’s Nalibali initiative would also continue with online support. Siyavula maths and science books would also be made electronically available.
Radio broadcasts will also be used for grade 12 subjects such as maths, life science, physical science, accounting, and English among others. Among the stations involved will be: Ukhozi FM, Lesedi FM, YFM, Kaya FM, Power FM, Jozi FM, UJ FM, Alex FM and Voice of Tembisa to name a few.
Infrastructure MEC Tasneem Motara expanded on how her department was entering into agreements with private institutions who have made their facilities available for additional beds and other means of support.
By Friday, Motara estimates that they will have reached their target of 2,000 available beds to meet the needs for either self-quarantining or self-isolation. She estimated their current capacity at over 600.
Health MEC Bandile Masuku announced that measures have been put into place to decentralise places where people can collect their chronic medicine.
According to Masuku, hospitals and other health facilities have already made 1,000 beds available for the purposes of quarantining and treatment and added that they were willing to increase these numbers as the need arises.
He cautioned that these numbers are not to be confused with those shared by Motara.
Additionally, the health department has deployed 134 contact tracing teams and is looking to make extra centres for testing available given the challenges faced at private testing facilities.
“We have a big problem with those who test in private labs because they don’t fill out their personal details on their forms properly.”
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Maile confirmed the list of essential services that will remain operational during this period such as waste removal among others.
Lastly, sports, arts and recreation MEC Mbali Hlope expanded on her department’s engagement with artists and sportspeople to notify them of the measures during this time and to engage them in an awareness campaign in order to notify the public while keeping them working.
She added that her department was waiting for the minister to announce recovery measures for those adversely affected by the shutdown once the period ends.
Hlope announced that comedians would be providing content during this period as they “have acknowledged that the work they do is crucial to the happiness index within the province”.
The content will be shared during the national lockdown through various media platforms including television, radio and social media.
Lastly, Hlope confirmed that the province’s libraries would implement electronic interventions in order to allow Gauteng residents remote access to its content.
Watch the full address below: