Mabuza urges unity in fight against GBV

Mabuza urges unity in fight against GBV

Deputy President, David Mabuza, wants South Africans to join hands in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.

Mabuza officially launched the five days of mourning for femicide victims and the remembrance of South Africans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Gauteng, today.

“The whole nation must rise, and mobilise every street, every community, every church, and every family to join the fight against the murder, and violation of women and children by men. Many lives of women and children have been lost as a result of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in our own communities,” he says.

As the country continues to grapple with the scourge – the Deputy President says COVID-19 has also caused unprecedented disruptions and anxieties that are significantly impacting the lives and livehoods of all South Africans.

“While we have made significant strides in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are saddened that, as a nation, we have lost many lives as a result of COVID-19. Many families have lost their relatives who have succumbed to COVID-19. We have lost frontline workers who died in the line duty, paying the ultimate sacrifice, while trying to save the lives of others from COVID-19,” he says.

More than 21 000 South Africans have succumbed to the illness, while 772 252 others are infected.

“COVID-19 continues to be part of our lives. We should continue to be vigilant, and ensure that we continue adhere to COVID-19 protocols. The reported rising number of infections remains a major cause for concern for all of us. We should continue to behave responsibly to save lives, and avoid any possible resurgence of COVID-19 infections that may result in further loss of lives.”     

Mabuza has called on all South Africans to wear a black armband or any other sign that signifies mourning during the five days.

“During this period, the National Flag will be flown at half-mast throughout the country from 6am to 6pm,” he says. 

Yesterday, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, launched the Inter-Ministerial Committee on gender-based violence campaign in Pretoria.

Nkoana-Mashabane called on South Africans not to turn a blind eye when it comes to gender-based violence.

Also yesterday, Minister of Police Bheki Cele revealed that 8 000 rape cases were reported to the police in the second quarter of 2020.

Cele said the majority of women were raped in their homes or at the homes of perpetrators.

Wits University student, Wendy Manjeya, has called on the Police Minister to dig deeper in solving the crisis.

VOW FM listener, Palesa Mohlamme, says 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children hasn’t solved the gender issues that are crippling the country.

Women’s financial dependence on men is one of the factors cited as reasons for them to sometimes stay in abusive relationships. In a bid to solve this, government has reiterated its commitment to setting aside 40% of public procurement for women-owned businesses, under the theme women’s economic justice for a nonviolent and nonsexist South Africa.

However, gender activist Lebo Ramafoko doubts this will reach the women who need empowerment. Speaking on VOW FM’s Area Code, Ramafoko said it would be best if the government could also give details on who the benefactors of such deals would be. She’s concerned that the deals could be directed to women who are already empowered – further marginalising the poor.

Government steps up efforts to avoid COVID-19 second wave in Eastern Cape

Government steps up efforts to avoid COVID-19 second wave in Eastern Cape

Rhodes University, in collaboration with Government Communications (GCIS), Makana Local Municipality and various other Makhanda stakeholders embarked on a COVID-19 Awareness campaign on Friday as infection rates continue to sour in the province.

Rhodes Music Radio’s Raymond Mojapelo reports that the initiative was aimed at conscientising the residents of Makhanda and the Rhodes University community about the looming COVID-19 second wave.

President Cyril Ramaphosa raised concerns over this during his recent update to the nation, in which he highlighted the spike in numbers, especially in Eastern Cape, Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District.

Campaign participants mounted COVID-19 posters around Rhodes University, a motorcade of stakeholders travelled through Makhanda for loud hailing and visiting various liquor establishments to check for compliance.

This all in efforts to contain the situation in the Eastern Cape, which is showing signs of a COVID-19 resurgence. 
Last week, the number of new cases in the province was 50% higher than the week before. And the total number of new cases in the last 14 days was around 145% higher than the previous 14 days. 

The office of the premier on Thursday held a media briefing and announced that the premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane contracted the virus and is self-isolating.

The Makana Joint Operations Committee vowed to monitor the situation and to work closely with the local stakeholder to ensure that the eminent resurgence doesn’t get worse in a hugely under-resourced town. 

Makana has only one hospital and heavily pressurised health care facilities. Despite Friday’s campaign, public service announcements were also aired on Rhodes Music Radio to try to send the awareness message to students who have already started visiting clubs and other events. – Report by Rhodes Music Radio’s Raymond Mojapelo

Eastern Cape faces a subdued festive season

Eastern Cape faces a subdued festive season

The festive season won’t be the same in the Eastern Cape this year, with fewer travelling after losing their livelihoods during the lockdown and physical distancing at traditional ceremonies on the cards.  

In a year in which millions of people have faced death, job losses and financial devastation owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, there is nothing some want more than to relax in their family homesteads in the Eastern Cape in December.

“I cannot resist going home in December,” said Nombulelo Mrwata from New Rest in Gugulethu, Cape Town. Mrwata, who has worked in a kitchen for the same employer for 13 years but was paid a reduced wage during lockdown, is heading to Lady Frere this month. The 63-year-old, who has high blood pressure and arthritis, lost her sister-in-law to the coronavirus. Her family also lost a young child because of the pandemic. 

Nozipho Maphuphu, 45, lives with her two adult sons in the Ladies Park extension of the Kwakhikhi shack settlement near Gugulethu, which was built by the children of former hostel dwellers to offset the effects of overcrowding in the main hostel. Nozipho’s sister, Nomalungisa Maphuphu, 36, lives with them and was about to give birth at the time of writing. Only one of Nozipho’s sons still has work, as a security guard.

Nozipho went home to the Eastern Cape briefly during lockdown for a funeral. “But to me, being home means staying there for over a month, and then I will feel good about being home,” she said, adding that the family leaves for Cofimvaba on 13 December.

Funeka Mshweshwe is heading home from Cape Town a few days before Christmas to Gatyane in Willowvale, Eastern Cape. “My only concern is the amount needed to make the trip, as adults pay about R700 each way,” she said. 

Mshweshwe had a terrible year after her uncle died from the coronavirus and she lost her job at an early childhood centre. She said her three young sons suddenly found themselves waiting at home while she went to look for food. 

“Boy children always raid the bread bin and finding it empty, they throw a tantrum. It seems bread is a boy’s lifeline. My brother-in-law also lost his job. This meant my sister’s four children had to come stay with us. Suddenly, they were seven [children] in the house. I just couldn’t take it.” She was eventually offered a stipend to work at the crèche, which she said helped a little. 

‘It was tough’ 

Fuku Maqendwanana, 71, is planning to leave the Cyril Ramaphosa shack settlement in Cape Town and move to the village of Gqaga in Engcobo, Eastern Cape. He said many of his church friends had died from the coronavirus. Five of his six sons lost their jobs and were no longer able to support him and his wife. “It was tough for me, but even tougher for my sons, shame,” he said.

Gugulethu-based long-distance truck driver and father of two, Onke Khusa, 30, and his five siblings all lost their jobs during lockdown. “I’m holding piece jobs so I can leave for Cofimvaba in December, though,” said Khusa.

For others who lost their jobs this year, there is no way to afford the trip home. Bonelele Mbilini, 34, a resident of the Lingelethu shack settlement near Motherwell in Port Elizabeth lost her job as a farm worker, packing oranges. “I can’t visit my family in Tsomo because I have no money. This coming holiday, I won’t do umcimbi [traditional function] at all because my husband and I don’t have jobs,” she said. 

Mandlenkosi Mazonda, 58, of Kamvelihle in Port Elizabeth, works as a driver. “Sometimes I argue with my wife when I only bring R150 from work, because since this COVID-19 virus I sometimes worked two or three days a week. All my earnings went into deductions. I want to go home in December but I have no money. There will be many events such as weddings and initiation ceremonies. In December, we will sit here and look at each other in the eyes,” he said.

Lungisa Dyasi, 42, from Zwide in Port Elizabeth lived and worked in Cape Town for 19 years. But after the coronavirus outbreak, he built a stand to sell fruit and vegetables and made “bank stools” (wooden chairs) and dog kennels. “Here at home, we are a family of seven and depend on our parent’s social grant to survive, which is not enough. Now I’m not sure how to plan for December holidays because the institutions I supplied have closed down, therefore there’s no way I can afford to travel,” he said.

27 October 2020: Lungisa Dyasi began making and selling furniture out of wooden pallets at home when he couldn’t find a job during the lockdown. (Photograph by Bonile Bam)

A number of small Eastern Cape villages and rural towns were not badly affected by the coronavirus this year, helped by the isolated nature of these areas and social distancing. Some pensioners across the province, even in the busy townships of KwaNobuhle and Mdantsane isolated themselves with signs on their doors stating “Please, no visitors”.

“Not many people lost their lives in Xolorha village, and because the houses are built far apart, we are not scared of immediate infections. I haven’t heard of people close who have succumbed to the disease,” said Nombulelo Mbotho, 50, who owns a spaza shop in the village. 

Festive season plans 

However, celebratory gatherings such as traditional functions where dozens of people cook and eat close to one another have barely taken place in lockdown. But they are a large part of the festive season. December traditional functions are also an important part of local economies. Many village-based farmers aim to make enough money to support their extended families over the coming year by selling cattle and sheep to those arriving from the major cities. 

Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, the spokesperson for Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane, said there is an “emerging surge” of coronavirus cases in the province. “One of the activities for this season are cultural and family events. For these, too, we urge restraint and alert,” he said.

20 October 2020: Mandlenkosi Mazonda outside his RDP house at Kamvelihle in Port Elizabeth. A driver, he was asked to work part-time during the lockdown, which means he doesn’t have the money to visit relatives in December. (Photograph by Bonile Bam)

Sicwetsha said the provincial government wanted all universities in the province to put lockdowns in place on their campuses until the end of the academic year at the first sign of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Eastern Cape government has also set up 100 rapid response teams trained to combat “the possible second wave” in the 100 municipal wards that experienced high numbers of coronavirus cases during the first wave of the pandemic. 

He said the government is aware that more “superspreader” events may emerge. Last month, 125 University of Fort Hare students tested positive within three weeks in one of the “superspreader” incidents. They were taken to the Bisho hospital isolation site while 423 other students had to be tested and self-isolate.

Sicwetsha said that while ulwaluko (traditional circumcision) was prohibited across South Africa, the provincial executive council would be asking the national government “to allow ulwaluko for the December season”. 

But signalling a major change in the traditional practice of circumcision camps being under the sole management of the ikhankatha, who is in charge of the camp for the initiates, Sicwetsha said that if ulwaluko was allowed “each family of a young boy that will undergo ulwaluko will be responsible for the wellbeing of their child by ensuring wearing of masks, regular washing of hands with soap and water, and limiting numbers of people in each ibhoma to enforce social distancing”.

The government is banking on people continuing to wear masks and physically distance throughout their stay in the rural areas.

But in the village of Qunu, two grade 11 students say they feel that traditional functions must be postponed until December 2021. “Because as soon as people get drunk, wearing of masks and social distancing won’t be practised. In fact, we should rather postpone all events this year. The elders need to apologise to ancestors for the promises they could not keep,” said Aluve Zenani, 21. 

26 October 2020: From left, Luvumo Khwatsha, Aluve Zeneni and Khaya Mahlabedlula from Qunu village near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape have different views about holding imicimbi (cultural ceremonies) in December. (Photograph by Bonile Bam)

His friend, Luvumo Kwatsha, 19, agreed, saying “all those people who want to celebrate this December should wait for next year at least. Life is more important than imicimbi”.

But their classmate, Khaya Mahlabedlula, 21, said, “Customs and traditions are part of our lives. We are obliged to do them as Africans. If we don’t do the ceremonies, some of us will be sick. 

“In some situations, traditional healers are called to communicate with the ancestors. We can still do the events as long as we practise social distancing, wash our hands regularly and wear masks, and maintain the limit of people attending the event.”

This article by Anna Majavu, Bonile Bam and Tarzan Mbita was first published on social justice media publication, New Frame. 

No electricity no vote, vow Naledi residents in Soweto

No electricity no vote, vow Naledi residents in Soweto

By-elections in Soweto, Johannesburg, got off to a rocky start.

Jozi FM is reporting that community members in Naledi locked the gates of two voting stations, prohibiting voters from entering the area to cast their ballot.

The community is upset about the lack of electricity, which they say has been off for six months now due to a transformer that has exploded.

They say although they reported the matter to authorities, nothing was done to repair it.

The residents have blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres.

An ANC councillor in the City of Johannesburg Matshidiso Mfikwe has slammed the residents for blocking others from voting.

She says the residents are committing crime.

But residents aren’t budging. They say: “We just need a box and we just go to a ballot box and cast our vote. We want to vote but not in a dark area.”

By-elections are taking place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all the country’s nine provinces on Wednesday. 

Of the 95, 14 are in Gauteng across six municipalities.

The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties, with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. It includes 19 independent candidates.

The polls were supposed to be held between March and September but the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) postponed them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The elderly and people with disabilities cast their ballots yesterday.

What you need to know about by-elections

What you need to know about by-elections

By-elections will be taking place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all South Africa’s nine provinces on Wednesday. Of the 95, 14 are in Gauteng, across six municipalities.

The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties, with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. It includes 19 independent candidates.

The polls were supposed to be held between March and September but the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) postponed them due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission says it took a decision to go ahead with the by-elections based on the current infection rate.

Cases in the country have gone down from about 14 000 daily infections in July to 1 247 recorded on Monday.

The electoral body says voting will be conducted under strict COVID-19 regulations.  

The by-elections kicked off on Tuesday with special votes. The special votes cater to the elderly, pregnant women, disabled persons, national commitment, and those who are in quarantine. The IEC officials will visit them at their homes, while it advises those who can go to the voting stations to do so.

Now the big question will be, why do we have by-elections? The answer is quite simple, a by-election is to fill a vacant position when the one who was occupying it has resigned or has died.

Ward 9, and 120 residents in Lenasia are among South Africans who will be casting their ballot in the elections.

In Ward 9, the following voting stations will be operational:

 • Lenasia Civic CentrePark Primary

  • Park Primary
  • Nirvana Secondary
  • Pentarosa Primary
  • Protea Recreation Centre
  • Nirvana Old Age Home

 Here is where one can cast one’s vote in Ward 120:

  • Southview High School
  • Kiasha Park Primary School
  • Sierra Nevada Primary School
  • Madiba Primary School
  • Lancaster Primary School
  • God’s Plan Church
  • Qalabotjha Secondary School
  • Touch Life Ministries
  • New Generation Combined School

Voters are reminded to:

• Only vote at the voting station where they are registered

• To bring their green barcoded ID document or smartcard ID

• To wear a mask and observer social distancing at all times

• And to bring their own pen if they wish, to avoid using the ones provided

COVID-19 protocols:

• Strict social distancing practices both outside and inside voting stations

• The mandatory wearing of masks over the nose and mouth of all persons within the boundaries of the voting station

• The application of hand sanitisers to all persons entering and exiting the voting station

• The replacement of the traditional indelible ink marker pens with an indelible ink liquid will be applied from a bottle to the thumb of voters using cotton buds which will be disposed of after each use. Of the candidates, 305 (69%) are male and 139 (31%) are female. Reporty by Cannedy Netshitungulu from Rising Sun Lenasia

Soweto school kicks off matric exams without incident

Soweto school kicks off matric exams without incident

As over a million South African matric learners sat down for their first 2020 final examination paper, the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga visited Sekano-Ntoane Secondary School in Soweto, Gauteng.

Jozi FM reports that it was all systems go for the grade 12 learners at the school.

They were part of the 1 058 699 matriculants who wrote their English paper 1 on Thursday.

This year’s examination is the biggest in the country’s history as the June exams were postponed due to COVID-19.

The pandemic has forced the learners to write under unconventional circumstances, with much of the schooling year having experienced disruptions. They are also writing under strict safety protocols to contain the spread of the virus.

Minister Motshekga has told Jozi FM that the department is ready to deal with challenges of the new normal during the exams.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi also accompanied Motshekga to Sekano-Ntoane.

He is chuffed over how the first day of matric exams proceeded so far in the province.

Naptosa red-faced

Meanwhile a showdown is looming between the Basic Education Department and teachers’ union, Naptosa.

The union is upset over the government’s failure to consult with educators before deciding to allow learners who test positive for COVID-19 to write their matric examinations.

The department has said candidates who have contracted the virus and deemed fit to write the exam, will be allowed to do so at a different venue and under secure conditions that are in line with the country’s coronavirus safety protocols.

However, Naptosa is worried about the safety of its members.

“While we acknowledge the right of all learners to sit for an examination, we will not have the health and safety of our members compromised and that if teachers are expected to be responsible for the invigilation of such learners, Paptosa will support and defend members who do not see their way clear to do so, because we believe any such instruction will be both unlawful and unreasonable,” the union’s Executive Director Basil Manuel says.

He says because the decision was reached between DBE and the health department – the responsibility of invigilation for COVID-19 positive learners should be shouldered by members of the health department.

Naptosa has requested an urgent meeting with Minister Motshekga iron out differences.

Limpopo company director nabbed for R3.2 million COVID-19 relief funds fraud

Limpopo company director nabbed for R3.2 million COVID-19 relief funds fraud

A 47-year-old company director in Limpopo has been arrested for COVID-19 social relief funds fraud.

The suspect from Mtititi, outside Malamulele, is alleged to have stolen R3.2 million from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The Mtititi Drop in Centre director had allegedly claimed the UIF money on behalf of her 242 former workers of the Malamulele-based Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).

Upon investigations following a complaint on the matter, the Hawks investigators found that the workers’ contract was terminated before President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a lockdown.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation alleges that the money claimed never made it to the pockets of the former workers.

The 47-year-old woman will appear in the Malamulele Magistrate’s Court on Monday.