Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #135

Gauteng defends procurement corruption report – schools face staff shortages – emergency SA passports available but elusive

On Friday, Gauteng defended its Covid-19 Disclosure Report. Home Affairs, meanwhile, said emergency passports are available for South Africans stuck abroad – but the embassies where they need to apply remain closed. Schools, in the meantime, are facing a staff shortage crisis.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 statistics on 28 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and Free State did not provide an update by the time of publishing:


On Friday, the Gauteng government said its Covid-19 Disclosure Report was just that – a report, and not an investigation. It defended the report as “fine”, describing it as a “combination of facts from the various departments”. 

As reported by Maverick Citizen last week, the report is short on details and key information about vendors and suppliers. As Ufrieda Ho writes, it agreed that corruption remains a blot on Gauteng’s response to the pandemic. It confirmed that the Special Investigating Unit has been brought in. 

Those stranded abroad without travel documents can apply for an emergency one-way passport that will allow them to return to South Africa, according to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. The document is available from South African foreign missions. However, many offices remain closed due to Covid-19. 

Motsoaledi said Home Affairs can do little to help if these offices are not open, but assured citizens they can call emergency contact numbers at the relevant mission. However, as Greg Nicolson writes, there have been reports that calls go unanswered.

Under lockdown Level 2, Home Affairs will once again be offering services such as applications for the first-time issue of identity cards, and for identity cards for people who received temporary documents during earlier levels of lockdown. People can still register marriages, births and deaths and are able to collect documents as well as apply to change their personal details.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that the government is considering establishing a body “with investigative as well as prosecuting powers” in the style of the Scorpions. He also vowed to make government procurement processes more transparent and “open to public scrutiny”. 

As Marianne Merten writes, this came just after Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that those implicated in corruption will be “severely punished” and will be made to pay back the money stolen. Meanwhile, Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba once again called for 2020 to be the year of the orange jumpsuits.

In Nelson Mandela Bay, more than 1,700 patients with TB have been “lost” from the clinic system during the lockdown, as health facilities turned their focus to Covid-19. It comes as the Treatment Action Campaign starts its first in a series of oversight visits to clinics in the metro. As Estelle Ellis reports, other health services were put on ice too. 

Across the country, some schools are facing a staff shortage crisis. This is partly because those who have permission to work from home have not been substituted. 

About 22,000 teachers have been granted a concession to work from home because they have comorbidities or are aged 64 and above. This is out of about 410,000 teachers in public schools. Ayanda Mthethwa looks into the situation in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. DM/MC.

Gallery

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