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South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Thursday 4 June

If you need to stay informed with all the latest news in South Africa, be sure to check our wrap of headlines on Thursday 4 June.

As court cases and defeats continue to pile up against government as a result of flawed lockdown regulations, the rush to ready schools in time for the revised return of Grade 7 and 12 pupils continues to be marred by procurement delays.


Dlamini-Zuma’s legal woes: Two strikes with a third looming

Government has suffered a second judicial defeat in as many days, after the Gauteng High Court sided with AfriForum in its case against the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, and the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

On Wednesday afternoon, the court ordered that people who test positive for COVID-19 cannot be forced into quarantine. AfriForum, which has had its own rollercoaster ride in the courtroom during lockdown, welcomed the judgement which reiterated the ‘irrationality’ of government regulations.

Importantly, this latest verdict follows an agreement reached between all parties which is fundamentally different to the Judge Norman Davis’ Tuesday judgement which declared certain Level 3 and 4 lockdown regulations invalid and unconstitutional. The landmark ruling allows Dlamini-Zuma and other cabinet ministers a grace period of 14 days to review, amend and republish regulations within the Disaster Management Act.

And while government is likely to appeal Davis’ verdict before the Constitutional Court, another fierce legal challenge lays just beyond the horizon. Government’s last-ditch effort to delay the legal challenge against its controversial tobacco ban has failed and the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) looks ready to land the final blow.

Additionally, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has noted that Dlamini-Zuma failed to respond to their legal query concerning hairdressers returning to work. As a result, the official opposition party is currently consulting with its legal counsel in an attempt to table a watertight judicial challenge.

Will schools be ready to return next week?

Uncertainty continues to surround the reopening of schools which was, earlier this week, delayed at the last minute by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. The department’s inability to supply personal protective equipment, running water and sanitizers to all schools has marred the 2020 curriculum which already hangs by a meagre thread as a result of the lockdown.

With Grade 7 and 12 pupils scheduled to return to class on Monday 8 June, teachers unions, governing bodies and civil societies say that government’s failure to ensure readiness will result in a spike in infections, if schools return prematurely, or a disjointed national curriculum, if some schools are allowed to open independently.

Additionally, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), which decided to defy Motshekga’s latest postponement and open schools in accordance with the gazetted timetable, faces a legal challenge by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

According to the latest data supplied by the Department of Basic Education, at least 5 000 schools are still not properly equipped to reopen in four days’ time.

Police brutality under the microscope

A surge in police brutality during lockdown has garnered fierce condemnation. Outrage associated with the killing of George Floyd in the US, as a result of a forceful arrest, has redoubled public scrutiny in South Africa, with recent cases of police assault sullying Minister Bheki Cele’s hard-handed approach to enforcement.

Matters have been made worse by government’s condemnation of Floyd’s death while failing to mention the killing of Alexandra resident Collins Khoza, who was allegedly beaten to death by soldiers for having “a beer in his fridge”. An internal investigation led by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) exonerated the military personnel involved.

At least 11 people have died has a result of police brutality during lockdown, with 230 000 arrests made for breaching lockdown regulations. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) says that it has been overwhelmed by reports of abuse.

Mayor Mzwandile Masina hanging on by a thread

Ekurhuleni mayor and regional chairperson of the ANC, Mzwandile Masina, has been reprimanded by party structures following his public outburst in support of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema. Masina, who, although backtracking on his threat to resign, has defended his support for the nationalisation of the economy, will remain as mayor and chairperson… for now.

According to ANC sources in Ekurhuleni, the regional executive committee had reprimanded Masina for challenging party policy on a public platform, Twitter.

During a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday, Masina denied supporting “the collapse of the white economy” but said he would continue to advocate for nationalisation, both in a personal capacity and as a senior member of the ANC.

Nzimande visits Tshwane University of Technology

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, will on Thursday visit Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) to check its state of readiness in preparation for the phased return of students.

The Minister’s visit follows the commencement of the COVID-19 level 3 pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Final year students and those graduating in 2020 may return to campus under level 3 lockdown.

Nzimande held a media briefing on 23 May, in which the department announced level 3 lockdown health and safety measures, and subsequent regulations.

“Students in all years of study, who require clinical training in their programmes provided that the clinical training platforms have sufficient space and can accommodate them while adhering to the safety protocols [may return],” Nzimande said.

He announced a phased reopening of campus activities in the entire Post School Education and Training sector, as the sector continues to implement a risk adjusted strategy. (Source: SAnews)


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