Calls to mental health hotline double, special parole authorised and police behaviour under the parliamentary spotlight

Calls to mental health hotline double, special parole authorised and police behaviour under the parliamentary spotlight
Yoga teacher Siri Ajeet Dipuo Banda (R) helps student Nhlanhla Kunene (L) perform 'warrior pose' during a yoga session in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, 06 May 2020. The Yoga4alex program has been running for 9 years and aims to bring the ancient spiritual practice of yoga to the high density township to help the young deal with the pressures of life and help them grow. Yoga4alex have been running daily yoga classes via mobile phones so that the students can practice safely at home and adhere to the strict lockdown rules imposed by the government. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March when the National State of Disaster was declared. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest provides essential snippets of information about Covid-19 in the country. Read on to get the full picture.

Friday was a day of ministerial briefings.

As lockdown levels are lowered, more and more public services are expected to become available again and all government departments have plans in place to allow employees to return to work safely, said Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu during a briefing to lawmakers. As Greg Nicolson reports, he called on public servants to recognise their “higher calling” in returning to work during Level 4.

An infographic explaining which sectors can go back to work under Level 4, including which government services can operate. Source: The Presidency of South Africa.

The conduct of the police was under the microscope, with both Minister of Police Bheki Cele and police watchdog IPID making remarks. As Marianne Merten writes, not all’s well.

Just under 19,000 “low-risk inmates” are to be released on parole to reduce prison populations during the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola. This is to ensure physical distancing and self-isolation in the country’s notoriously overcrowded jails. As Marianne Thamm writes, pension-fund fraudster J Arthur Brown will be among those released.

In Eastern Cape, the provincial department of health confirmed that 80 people, mostly seasonal farmworkers who returned to the province from Western Cape, had tested positive for Covid-19. Estelle Ellis writes that the travel occurred before the new rules on interprovincial travel, as allowed under Level 4.

About 20 Shoprite Checkers merchandisers who tested positive and spent two weeks in quarantine have been stopped from returning to work at the Bayside Mall in Tableview, Cape Town, by a branch manager. Vincent Cruywagen reports that the manager insists they must be tested before returning. However, private testing is expensive and the workers have been told by public healthcare staff that they cannot be retested.

Phone calls to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group have doubled during the lockdown, the NGO revealed on Thursday during a webinar hosted by Business4SA. People are struggling to cope with isolation, a sinking economy and perpetual uncertainty. As Estelle Ellis writes, participants in the webinar agreed that mental health needs to be given more attention in the conversation about the pandemic. DM


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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