Better communication needed for Joburg Region E Covid-19 screening and testing

I am concerned at a notice sent out by Johannesburg Health MMC Mogeru Morewane to residents of Johannesburg Region E which seemingly advises high risk groups for Covid-19 to tests at local sites together with people who have flu-like symptoms.

Region E is currently the sub-district with the highest number of cases in Gauteng with 248 (31.5%) of Johannesburg’s 788 recorded Covid-19 cases. It includes Sandton, Bryanston, Fourways, Alexandra and north eastern suburbs such as Orange Grove, Sydenham, Waverley, Highlands North, Sandringham, Kew and Greenstone.

According to the notice, the screening and testing is happening today (27 April) and the targeted group includes “those with flu-like symptoms, community members who are above 60 years and those with co-morbid chronic conditions (e.g. Diabetes, Asthma, Hypertension, HIV infection, Tuberculosis).”

Furthermore, it urges “all the local political leaders, faith-based organization, ratepayers association, organized labour, traditional healers, businesses and members of the public to avail themselves to the identified sites.”

I have established that the intention of this exercise is that the high risk group over 60 and with co-morbid conditions will be seen in their homes, but it is highly inadvisable for them to go to the testing sites in each ward where they could come in contact with people who have flu-like symptoms.

This morning I visited the Jabula Recreation Centre in Sandringham which is the designated testing site for Ward 72. There were only three cars in the parking lot at 10am and I was told by one of the waiting people that the testers were still on their way.

There needs to be better communication and arrangements so that only the appropriate targeted groups i.e. those with flu-like symptoms or in contact with those with such symptoms, leave their homes to visit testing centres. Everyone else should stay in their homes.

Food parcels stolen at Greenfields in Ekurhuleni

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that food parcels meant for the poor during this critical national lockdown was stolen at the Smart Angels Crèche in Greenfields Ward 8, Ekurhuleni.

It is alleged that a truck delivered the food parcels on Thursday evening to crèche for the Greenfields residents in Ward 8. The food parcels were to be distributed to the residents the next day and were allegedly stolen from the crèche premises overnight.

The residents who were meant to receive the food parcels were angry and frustrated about having to go back home empty handed after receiving the sad news that the food parcels have been stolen.

Food parcels have now become a target for criminals.

We will closely monitor this case to ensure that no stone is left unturned and that those implicated are arrested and face the full might of the law.

The DA is calling on Acting Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Panyaza Lesufi to urgently investigate this incident and ensure that places where food parcels are to be kept are safe and have tight security.

The MEC should also make other means available to ensure that these residents receive their food parcels as they are desperately in need of food.

DA lays criminal charges against Carmicael Philander for spreading fake news about DA Councillors

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today opened a criminal case at Park Police Station in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, against Carmicael Philander for spreading fake news about DA Councillors.

Click here and here for photos.

Following my statement on Wednesday 15 April 17, 2020 entitled, “Shameless Gauteng DSD officials steal food parcels, deny the poor food during the lockdown”, Carmicael Philander posted on his Facebook account yesterday at 19:07 pm a photo of three people packaging food parcels with the DA logo beneath the photo. His post was the following: “The Democratic Alliance in the news for all the wrong reasons. DA Councillors implicated in theft of food parcels”. There is also a link to an article about my statement.

The fake news post can be obtained here.

Philander’s Facebook post is blatantly incorrect and slanderous and by posting it on a public platform he is spreading fake news.

Spreading fake news is against the Covid-19 Disaster Management Regulation 11 (5) which prohibits and criminalises the spread of fake news pertaining to efforts of combating this deadly pandemic.

It is shameful that in this time when good people do their best to assist those in need and our country faces an imminent hunger crisis, this kind of misinformation is being spread.

The truth is that DA-run municipalities across the country have have partnered with NGOs, farmers, and businesses to fill the gap left by SASSA, who clearly has been unable to fulfil their mandate of providing adequate relief in the form of food parcels at this time.

The DA calls on all citizens to be responsible by verifying any information before posting it on social media. Spreading fake news about food parcels while our people are hungry is a criminal offence. We will continue to ensure that those that break the lockdown regulations and spread fake news face the full might of the law.

Gauteng DSD fails to meet 48 hour turnaround time to distribute food parcels

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) has been failing to meet its 48 hour turnaround time to deliver food parcels to residents in need during the national lockdown period.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received numerous complaints from residents who are desperately in need of food and who claim that they have put in requests for food parcels and the department has yet to respond within the allocated time of 48 hours.

DA Councillor, Lesego Lekoto from Mogale City Local Municipality applied for food parcels for six families on 8 April and to date those families have not yet received food parcels from the department. This despite the fact that the Councillor received an acknowledgement receipt of his request via email with a reference number indicating that the turnaround time for food deliveries is seven working days.

This is one of many requests where the Gauteng ANC-led administration is failing to fulfill its promise to poor families who are hungry for food. For these applicants, food parcels are the only way to provide for their families during this difficult time.

This clearly indicates that the department does not have a proper plan in place to distribute food parcels on time as per their pronouncement.

The DA calls on the Acting MEC for Social Development, Panyaza Lesufi to provide clarity on the turnaround time with regards to the distribution of food parcels as well as to fast-track the process of food parcel distribution to ensure that no family goes to bed with empty stomachs.

DA calls for urgent action to stop ANC councillors issuing bogus permits to spazas

Note to Editors: An illegal trading permit issued by an ANC councillor in Tshwane is attached here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the City of Tshwane Administrator, Mpho Nawa, to urgently take action against ANC councillors who have been issuing illegal trading permits to spaza shop owners and street traders.

Last week, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma announced that licensed spaza shops are now allowed to sell essential goods during the lockdown period if they have a valid permit from their municipality.

According to the City of Tshwane’s Street Traders bylaws, councillors do not have the authority to issue permits. Only municipal officials can issue the permits and help the spaza shop owners.

However, the DA has been reliably informed that ANC ward councillors in Tshwane have issued illegal permits to the spaza shop owners.

This is in direct contravention of the bylaw and immediate action should be taken against these councillors.

It is clear that the ANC has no intention to follow the rule of law yet again, and will even go as far as misleading the informal traders instead of assisting them to follow the correct procedures.

The ANC-led Gauteng Provincial Government has unlawfully dissolved the Tshwane City Council but in fact its own councillors are undermining this decision.

While DA councillors are awaiting a court judgement on the matter, their ANC counterparts are committing fraud by illegally authorising permits.

The strongest action should be taken in this regard as this is a serious health and safety risk if informal traders are not assisted and regulated in terms of the bylaw and the COVID-19 regulations.

The DA will continue to assist community members by directing them to the correct offices for legitimate assistance.

GBV: DA calls for more resources and strengthening of unit 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned about the escalating number of gender-based violence cases during the lockdown period.

According to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele over 2 300 complaints have been registered since the beginning of the lockdown between the 27 to 31 March and from these cases, 148 suspects have been charged.

The number of gender-based violence cases that have been registered between January and 31 March 2020 now stands at 15 924.

The DA, therefore, calls on both the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko and the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General, Elias Mawela to strengthen and provide adequate resources and personnel to the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS) at our police stations to ensure that police officers have the capacity to respond to such complaints.

Minister Cele indicated that once all reports have been consolidated, the figures will be measured against the number of complaints received through the Gender-Based Violence Command Centre in 2019, where the figure stands at 87,920.

These stats are worrying and clearly indicate that the safety of women and children is under threat particularly during this lockdown period.

We demand a breakdown per province on where these incidents have been reported to ensure that there are immediate interventions by different stakeholders involved in fighting the scourge of gender-based violence.

The DA will make a follow-up on the gender-based violence cases reported during the lockdown to ascertain the number of arrests, the progress in terms of investigations and the number of convictions to ensure that the victims get the justice they deserve.

We also encourage more victims to speak out on issues of gender-based violence as this social ill has a negative impact on the well-being of all our people.

Mayor Masina misled Ekurhuleni residents about Covid-19 vaccine

The Ekurhuleni Mayor, Mzwandile Masina has misled the residents of Ekurhuleni about procuring a vaccine for Covid-19 from Cuba.

Mayor Masina made an announcement during his State of the City Address that he would use the City’s emergency funding to procure the vaccine ‘Inferon B’ from Cuba to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Africa Check, Mayor Masina was referring to the interferon alpha-2b, a drug used to treat the symptoms of diseases caused by some earlier strains of coronavirus. This drug will not cure Covid-19.

This clearly indicates that no proper research was conducted before the Mayor made his announcement.

Mayor Masina was irresponsible in his pronouncement and gave false hope to the residents while the nation is in crisis.

Even though Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize subsequently confirmed that there is currently no vaccine for Covid-19, Masina has yet to withdraw his statement.

Masina has a reputation for opposing and undermining President Ramaphosa, and his pronouncement shows that he prefers to play internal ANC politics rather than rally around a fact-based plan that the president has put forward to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Furthermore, the COGTA Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also made a determination that the spread of fake news about the coronavirus will be punishable, and the DA will be exploring if Masina’s announcement constitutes a violation of this determination.

The DA will continue to monitor the usage of the Ekurhuleni’s emergency funds to ensure that the public money is not shipped overseas to procure a vaccine that does not exist.

We call on all politicians to act responsibly and follow the lead of the Department of Health in combating the spread of Covid-19.

DA calls on local government to work with Gauteng DSD to ensure the safety of homeless during lockdown

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that there is a lack of intergovernmental coordination between local government and the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) in terms of identifying temporary shelters for homeless people during the lockdown period.

We have been reliably informed that the DSD requested municipalities to identify places that can be used as temporary shelters for homeless people and to submit the list to the department so that the department can provide the necessary resources. However, we have been informed that some of our municipalities have not yet responded to the department’s call.

This clearly indicates a lack of intergovernmental relations and that these different levels of government are working in silos.

This will have a negative impact on the lives of homeless people who are at risk of contracting coronavirus because they do not have homes to stay in during lockdown.

There are temporary shelters that have been identified in Tshwane, but these have not been properly organised and are not ready to accommodate the homeless.

The new Tshwane Administrator is failing the homeless people in the City as the toll-free number is not functioning and homeless people are being left in the cold.

Furthermore, there seems to be a challenge with housing homeless people in the province as most of the department’s subsidised shelters have been filled to capacity and municipalities are failing to identify temporary shelters.

The DA calls for cooperation between the local municipalities and the DSD to ensure that temporary shelters are identified as a matter of urgency and equipped with the necessities needed by the homeless.

The DA further believes that now more than ever the Department for Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) should come to the fore as well and assist DSD.

The DPWI should donate some of its abandoned buildings to be converted into shelters which NGOs can manage.

The Covid-19 pandemic must be seen as the warning sign, where we should not only look into possible temporary shelters but consider long term plans to relieve the plight of the most vulnerable.