CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #88

City of Cape Town slammed for yet another lockdown eviction while back-to-school schedule is shaken up again

By Christi Nortier 2 July 2020

City of Cape Town metro police move in on 21 April 2020 to clear land occupied by hundreds of people in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

On Thursday, the South African Human Rights Commission vowed to take the City of Cape Town to court over its eviction policy during lockdown. Meanwhile, the Department of Basic Education made major changes to which grades will be allowed to return to school next week. The South African National Editors’ Forum has launched a relief fund for journalists who have lost their income because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available, for 2 July, at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

The South African Human Rights Commission has vowed to take the City of Cape Town to court over its eviction policy. It wants the City to stop evicting people during the pandemic. This comes the day after law enforcement officials evicted Bulelani Qolani from his shack in Khayelitsha by dragging him outside naked and tearing down the shack after he managed to escape their grip and go back inside. There is “absolutely no excuse” for what happened, and the commission believes it was a breach of the Disaster Management Act, says commissioner Chris Nissen.

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James Stent spoke to Qolani after the eviction. Qolani joined activists demonstrating outside the Cape Town Civic Centre on Thursday, demanding an explanation from City of Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato.

He said he was washing himself in his room when the officials ignored his request for a court order, and for them to wait outside. They stormed in and threw him outside and left him with a destroyed house and damaged possessions.

“The video of me is important, for people to see the City of Cape Town.”

It was announced on Thursday that only pupils in grades R, 6 and 11 will be allowed to go back to school on Monday, 6 July. The decision was taken by the Council of Education Ministers after a meeting with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

There has been talk that a “Lockdown 2.0” could be introduced in Gauteng, but this decision ultimately lies with the National Coronavirus Command Council. Co-operative Government Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will make the call — she is head of the NCCC and will consult Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. As Ferial Haffajee writes, doctors have reported that clinics and hospitals are already filling up faster than anticipated.

This comes as the Gauteng Department of Health confirmed all government hospitals beds in the province are full.

Meanwhile, there has been another application made for direct access to the Constitutional Court to challenge the Covid-19 lockdown regulations and the NCCC. The initial application was dismissed in the Western Cape High Court on 26 June 2020. Marianne Merten unpacks the application.

The South African National Editors’ Forum has launched a relief fund for journalists who have lost their income because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. It says it is concerned that the shrinking of the media industry as a whole will have a detrimental long-term impact on the health of South Africa’s democracy. In print media alone, two magazines and 80 small print publications have closed since the start of lockdown. This means more than 700 journalists are without jobs. Read their statement here.

On Wednesday evening, South Africans got the chance to deliver their questions about the Covid-19 lockdown to President Cyril Ramaphosa directly. During the virtual imbizo, he answered questions sent in via social media. As Sandisiwe Shoba writes: “Though the sentiment behind the engagement was admirable, in the end, there were more questions than concrete answers.” DM/MC

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