Issue 420 | 25 March 2020
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Human Rights Month, March 2020
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South Africa will enter a nationwide lockdown for 21-days with effect from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
The lockdown, announced in a televised address to the nation on Monday night, 23 March 2020, is part of efforts to curb the rapid spread of the Coronavirus in the country.

President Ramaphosa made the announcement following a meeting held on Sunday with the National Coronavirus Command Council.

“This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater,” said the President.

The President’s announcement of the nationwide lockdown, came as the number of confirmed cases in South Africa increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.

During the nationwide lockdown, all South Africans will have to stay at home.

Under the lockdown, individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strict controlled circumstances.

These circumstances include the seeking of medical care, buying food, medicine and other supplies or the collection of social grants.

Enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act, the lockdown will end on Thursday, 16 April 2020.

Travel restrictions

In a bid to contain the virus and slow down its spread, the President announced a number of additional measures that will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures.

These measures include the automatic placement of South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries under quarantine for 14 days.

Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries announced last week, will be prohibited and turned back.

International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.

In addition, international travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day quarantine period.

To ensure that the measures announced are implemented, President Ramaphosa also announced the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to support the South African Police Service.

This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme, which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.

Workers exempt from lockdown

Exempt from the lockdown are health workers in the public and private sectors.

Emergency personnel, those in security services (such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel and soldiers) and other persons necessary in response to COVID-19 are exempt from the lockdown.

It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products.

In addition, temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people.

Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.

While emphasising the importance of a lockdown, the President urged that firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.

The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to disrupt the chain of transmission across society.

– Source:


President Cyril Ramaphosa wished all South Africans a reflective national Human Rights Day on 21 March 2020, and called on all citizens to unite behind the national effort to minimise the rapid spread and ultimately, combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We observe Human Rights Day at an extraordinary time for our country and the world, as we battle to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19,” President Ramaphosa said.

“The threat posed by this formidable adversary has compelled us to take unprecedented steps to protect the most fundamental human right of all, and that is the right to life," the President added.

South Africa annually observes Human Rights Day in remembrance of the tragic events of 21 March 1960 in Sharpeville and Langa. In Sharpeville, police opened fire on a peaceful crowd protesting the racist pass laws, killing 69 and injuring more than 180 people.

Saturday marked 60 years since the Sharpeville Massacre.

"Regrettably this year, we are not observing this day as we usually do by gathering in our numbers as we do with our national days. The prohibition of gatherings over 100 people is for the health and safety of all," the President said.

“This disruption is one of many necessary interventions we need to embrace as our nation sets out to meet a challenge that calls for unity, social solidarity and personal discipline among all South Africans.

“The right to life, to health and to economic activity is under threat from a virus that has necessitated that we dramatically alter our behaviour as a nation. It further demands from us to look at ourselves and the world around us in ways we have not imagined.”

The President said that South Africans could draw great strength from the way in which they had pulled together as a nation; working together closely with all sectors of society.

“If this Coronavirus is to leave any positive legacy, let it be that it brought all of us closer together not just for survival in this moment but for our future together as a nation that is destined to overcome this challenge," President Ramaphosa said.

“As we work together in the best interests of our country, South Africa, today, the events of Sharpeville and Langa on this day 60 years ago remind us of a time when the majority of citizens enjoyed no protection or recognition by the State and were deprived of their fundamental right to dignity.”

The theme for Human Rights Day 2020, “The Year of Unity, Socio-Economic Renewal and Nation-Building", is a profound call to action for all of us to play our part in ensuring the recovery of every compatriot by the Coronavirus as well as the recovery of our economy from the deep effects of this global pandemic.

“Let us be inspired today by the certainty that inspired the people of Sharpeville and Langa: that they would overcome. They did overcome. And so will we," the President said.



The 10th Meeting of the South Africa-Germany Bi-National Commission, which is an instrument used to manage relations between South Africa and Germany, took place on 20 March 2020, via a video conference.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, and German’s Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, led the delegations from their countries and co-chaired the meeting.

The meeting was the second meeting that Minister Pandor participated in, since the travel restrictions which were announced by the President due to the outbreak of COVID 19. On Wednesday, 18 March, Minister Pandor participated in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Minister’s Meeting, which linked together about 16 ministers from the SADC region.

Ministers Pandor and Maas discussed and exchanged views on political and high-level bilateral issues. These included South Africa’s priorities as Chair of the African Union (AU), Germany’s priorities as incoming chair of the European Union (EU), climate change and vocational training.

Other issues the two ministers discussed related to peace and security in Africa and Middle East, particularly how the two countries could cooperate to promote the resolution of such conflicts as well as the impact of COVID 19 on their respective communities and measures each country is taking to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The meeting followed the successful visit to South Africa by the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Dr Angela Merkel, in February 2020. The meeting took note of the outcomes of Chancellor Merkel’s visit and agreed on measures to ensure that the decisions made during this meeting between the Chancellor and the President of South Africa were implemented.

South Africa and Germany enjoy a historical strategic relationship. Bilateral ties are multi-faceted and mutually beneficial. South Africa and Germany are both non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019 – 2020 and cooperate well on issues that are on the UNSC agenda.

It is envisaged that such cooperation will increase after South Africa became the Chair of the AU in February 2020 and Germany will assume the Presidency of the EU in July 2020.

South Africa and Germany also enjoy a robust economic relationship. Total trade reached R234 billion, with South Africa’s exports exceeding R100 billion for the first time in 2019. Germany is also a significant investor in South Africa, with some 600 companies represented in South Africa. About 323 000 German nationals visited South Africa in 2019, making it the third-largest source of overseas tourists. Germany also has an extensive development programme in South Africa.

The Bi-National Commission comprises eight working groups, which met earlier to review the status of relations and identify additional areas of cooperation. The working groups are Foreign and Security Policy, Economy and Energy, Development Cooperation, Environment, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Labour and Social Affairs, Vocational Education and Training.
The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, and the Netherlands Ambassador to South Africa, Han Peters, officially signed a Blue Deal South Africa Project on Thursday, 5 March 2020, at Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
The Blue Deal Project aims to enhance access to sufficient, clean and safe water for all by 2030 and beyond. It also advocates for cooperation in solving local government level water-related problems.

Speaking during the official signing of the deal, Minister Sisulu reiterated the need for collaborative action in addressing the effects of climate change and how it intensifies water scarcity.

“The focus for the Blue Deal South Africa Project lies in collaborative action, i.e. solving local, water-related problems assisted by the knowledge and experiences of the Netherlands”, said Minister Sisulu.

She added that the cooperation included the exchange of views, identifying mutual interests, ensuring involvement of stakeholders and linking up ideas across institutional boundaries.

In agreement, Ambassador Peters said South Africa and the Netherlands had a mutually beneficial relationship on water-related matters dating back to more than 15 years.

“We are pleased that the partnership has now officially come into effect. The Blue Deal is also in support of the implementation of the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan”, said Ambassador Peters.

He further commended Minister Sisulu on the successful launch of the Master Plan, saying that the Dutch Government was looking forward to imparting their knowledge and expertise in the water sector.

The Blue Deal Project is based on the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan, National Development Plan and the Economic Recovery and Stimulus Plan.

The original proposal for the Blue Deal South Africa Partnership was submitted in January 2019 and is expected to be rolled out until 2030, with the first phase ending in 2022.

To achieve tangible results, the designated local Blue Deal projects for the period 2019 – 2022 are:

  • Crocodile River: combatting pollution
The Crocodile River faces threats of pollution by agriculture, industry and municipalities. The performance of the wastewater treatment plants in the area is not optimal. The challenge to address is to improve the operation of the municipal wastewater management systems to ensure a better quality of effluent being discharged into the river.

The envisaged outcome of the project will be an improvement of the quality of the Crocodile River, with an expected positive impact on the 1.45 million people around the river who will benefit from cleaner and more usable water.
  • Vredefort Dome: improvement of water quality of the Vaal River
The goal of the project is improving the water quality of the Vaal River around the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Vredefort Dome Heritage Site. It is anticipated that the project will improve water quality for about 50 000 people in Parys.
  • Blesbokspruit Ramsar Site Rehabilitation

The habitat of over 250 different bird species in the Blesbokspruit Wetland is endangered due to the impact of invasive species, acid mine drainage, poorly operated and maintained waste water treatment plants, as well as sewer reticulation and storm water systems that are failing. The main objective of the project is restoring the natural environment.
  • Msunduzi River: improvement of water quality
The Msunduzi River is an important water source for the densely populated and industrial area of KwaZulu-Natal, mainly around Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The water quality of the river is momentarily very poor. The project aims to align different activities to improve water quality across the institutional boundaries of different governmental and non-governmental organisations, industries and commercial enterprises.
South African Airways (SAA) has announced that it will immediately suspend all international operations until 31 May 2020, in response to government’s travel ban aimed at stopping the transmission of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic and attendant travel restrictions have resulted in a substantial decline in demand for air travel.

“The situation caused many airlines across the world to ground aircraft, release their employees and to cancel flights. In the case of SAA, this decision means that SAA will only render services on its regional and domestic routes,” said SAA in a statement on Friday, 20 March 2020.

Government has announced a travel ban and issued regulations which introduced certain measures aimed at combatting the spread or transmission of the Coronavirus.

SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia, said: “In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020.

“It is all our responsibility, not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus. In addition, the increasing risks to our crew of contracting the virus, including the possibility of being trapped in foreign destinations as a consequence of increasing travel bans cannot be ignored.”

“We also recognise the fluidity in the conditions we operate in and the need to respond to these changes with speed, and to this end, we commit to keep all our stakeholders abreast of any changes on an ongoing basis,” said Ramasia.

SAA said it regretted any inconvenience to customers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Source:


Access to the official South African Coronavirus website has been made 100% free. No airtime or data balance is required to get the information you need.

Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night, 15 March 2020, that South Africa had the “knowledge, means and resources” to defeat the disease.

One vitally important resource is providing no data cost access to the official SA coronavirus website for all South Africans thanks to the biNu #datafree Platform.

#datafree access to the website via allows all South Africans to discover the latest information, resources and stats on coronavirus. The biNu #datafree Platform is powering digital inclusion by removing the barrier of cost to accessing the official COVID-19 website, which is beneficial in the spread of facts and to prevent false information circulating. is available on any device across all mobile network operators, no airtime is deducted, and it can be accessed with SIM cards that have no airtime or data balance.

The biNu #datafree platform allows rich mobile experiences by removing the data cost barrier to engaging mobile users and bridging the digital divide. Whether organisations are connecting with employees, customers or communities, going #datafree increases user engagement and broadens mobile audience reach.

– Source:

South Africans Noluthando Makalima and Tracy McKay claimed silver medals in their first appearance at the recent ISA World Para Surfing Championships in San Diego.
Makalima, a Khayelitsha surfer with cerebral palsy, typified the type of grit this group is known for when she won her medal in the Women’s Prone 2 division during her first trip overseas. Prone 2 comprises surfers who require assistance on and off their surfboard in a prone position.

She was joined by Durbanite McKay, who won her medal in the Women’s Prone 1 (for surfers who catch waves without help). McKay was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2003 that left her with a walking impairment that worsens over time.

A bronze medal went to Cape Town’s Antony Smyth, the defending gold medallist and a former team captain who has another gold under his belt (2016) and two silver medals (2015 and 2017) at the event that has been renamed from the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Adaptive Surfing Championships.

That meant a total of four medals came back to South Africa.

The South African team was led by the current SA champion in the Men’s Prone 1, Daniel Nel, who was knocked out in the semi-finals of his division, earning a credible seventh place. The other two surfers in the SA team were visually impaired athletes, Jared Sacks and Sabelo Ngema, who did not make the final.

Led by a pair of Visually Impaired Gold Medals, Team Spain rose to the top of Para Surfing to earn their first team gold medal at the event. Team USA, previous champion in 2018, earned silver, with Team Brazil bronze and Hawaii copper. South Africa took sixth after fifth-placed France.

– Source:
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