Aug 2020 1st edition

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An opportunity to tell our history

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

An Eastern Cape oral historian says the rich stories that Africans pass from generation to generation must be widely shared across our nation.

Oral storytelling captures the events and heroes that shape a nation’s history and should be promoted, says oral historian and kwaZangashe village chief Jongisilo kaMenziwa.

He says our oral history teaches us where we come from as Africans. Our country’s history before colonialism is important in explaining some of the challenges societies face today, he believes.

The current coronavirus pandemic will one day form part of these stories, according to kaMenziwa. “Future generations will be told stories of how life changed in 2020 and how they were unable to hold circumcision ceremonies because of the lockdown.”

KaMenziwa, who has authored two books on the oral history of the Dlamini clan and its relations with the amaXhosa, abaThembu and amaMpondomise tribes, says it is important to have a record of these oral stories for future generations.

The opportunity to have the oral history of the different tribes recorded is now available, thanks to the Oral History Association of South Africa (OHASA). OHASA works with ordinary South Africans and school pupils to record and document stories that were previously only available through oral storytelling, says OHASA secretary Boitsheko Thwane.

Thwane says that OHASA is a non-profit organisation formed by the Department of Arts and Culture to bring about a balance in the current recorded history of the country.

Working with the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa, OHASA goes to different parts of the country to record the oral history of South Africans. It also partners with researchers and schools to have these stories documented in writing or video, she says.

Oral history is told using praise poetry, traditional storytelling and the presentation of research papers at OHASA’s annual conference. Thwane says that they have now started digitising oral history stories.

“We want to include these stories in our education system to bring equality to the current history syllabus,” she says.

Sharing stories that have traditionally been told orally will also help forge unity among the country’s different tribes, says Thwane, who believes that knowing where we come from, makes it easier to understand each other. When people understand one another, they celebrate each other, she says.

People who are interested in having their history recorded can contact OHASA by emailing or calling 082 802 6470. More information on where to find archived oral history stories is available on and

Bad behaviour results in alcohol ban

 A trauma surgeon has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to sober up South Africa, saying that heavy drinking was causing a headache for hospitals.

The sale of alcohol was once again banned in South Africa in the middle of July because of the number of people needing emergency care in hospitals as a result of drunken behaviour.

Instead of being available to help people who were very sick from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), hospitals were treating patients wounded in car accidents or fights that were caused by drinking too much.

Professor Steve Moeng, who is head of trauma at Gauteng’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, explains that under level five of the lockdown, the hospitals’ emergency rooms were nice and quiet but each time the country went to a lower level, the number of people needing emergency treatment at our hospitals increased.

  He says that since the country moved to level four of the lockdown on 1 June, hospitals have seen more trauma cases.

“Unfortunately, this has had a negative impact in terms of our ability to deal with the COVID-19 load in our hospitals,” he says, explaining that in South Africa, most of the trauma cases dealt with by hospitals are related to alcohol.

Moeng, who is also the academic head of trauma at the University of the Witwatersrand, says when the emergency rooms are full, hospitals are not able to give as much time and resources to COVID-19 as needed.

He says there is a need to re-evaluate society’s relationship with alcohol because too many people are not able to drink responsibly and instead become drunk and disorderly and behave recklessly or badly as a result.

Emergency rooms tell the story of the impact on South Africa of the abuse of alcohol, with doctors spending most weekends stitching up victims of domestic abuse, car crashes or violent fights.  -



COVID-19: Be money wise

With many South Africans struggling to keep their heads above water during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Credit Regulator (NCR) says there are things people can do to ease the burden.

NCR’s Acting Manager for Education and Communication, Advocate Kedilatile Legodi, says the National Credit Act (NCA) offers some hope to people battling to repay their loans.

The NCR, which is an agency of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, says many South Africans are battling because they have lost their income or their pay has been cut.

If you are battling to pay your debt, these two NCA debt relief measures may help you:

Debt counselling/review

Debt counselling is for people with more debt than they can afford to pay. You will be given budget advice and your debt counsellor will talk to your credit providers and ask for reduced payments, an extension of the repayment term or restructuring of debt.

Debt counselling protects you against repossession or legal action by credit providers.

The NCR has a list of registered debt counsellors who operate nationwide. You can find the list on the NCR website or by contacting the NCR at 0860 627 627.

Surrendering of goods

The NCA allows consumers to voluntarily surrender or return goods to credit providers when they can no longer afford the repayments or think they will not be able to afford the repayments in the future.

In terms of the act, credit agreements under which goods can be surrendered are instalment agreements, secured loans or leases. The credit provider will sell the returned goods in an attempt to settle the debt.

Loan money safely

Consider applying for credit life insurance when you take out a loan. It covers outstanding debt in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as death, retrenchment, unemployment, inability to earn an income, disability and others.

If you need to borrow money, you must first see if you will be able to afford the repayments. You should also only use NCR-registered credit providers.

No credit provider or money lender is allowed to keep your SASSA card, bank card or identity document and if they do so, you must report them to the police, says Legodi.   ñ

Celebrating South African women

August is Women’s Month, a time when we pause to celebrate the achievements and contributions made by South African women. 

Why do we celebrate Womenís Day?

In South Africa, 9 August is Women's Day and the month of August is National Women’s Month. This is an opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and the important role that women of all races and religions have played and continue to play in South African society.

On 9 August 1956, more than 20 000 women from all walks of life united in a mass demonstration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. They protested against the unjust pass laws enforced on women in South Africa.

The women were led by Lilian Ngoyi – a trade unionist and political activist, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, and Sophia Williams-De Bruyn.

In remembrance of what South African women achieved on that day, 9 August has been declared as National Women’s Day and is a public holiday in South Africa. Women’s Month is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of these inspirational women, the problems they faced in the struggle to be free and the important role all women continue to play in society.

Apart from their traditional roles as mothers, wives and caregivers, statistics show that women are making great progress in business, politics and academic and economic careers, with more and more women reaching top positions.

Make a difference

Women of South Africa, be proud of what you have achieved. Let the achievements of those who went before you inspire you to unlock your own strength and motivate you to make a difference in your family, your community and your country.

Go out and celebrate the women that you are. Go out and make a difference this Women’s Month!

Gender-based Violence

Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) continues to be a big problem in our society. The fight against GBVF cannot be left to government alone; it must be embraced by all South Africans – men, in particular.

Contact the Gender-based Command Centre in your area by calling 0800 428 428 or send a please-call-me to *120*7867#

Important numbers

If you are being abused or suspect that someone is being abused, call:

  • South African Police Service 10111
  • Childline 0800 055 555
  • Stop Women Abuse Hotline 0800 150 150
  • Lifeline 0861 322 322.

Celebrating the country’s indigenous people

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

South Africa’s first people have fascinating stories to tell about the region’s history.

The history of the Khoisan people stretches to all corners of Southern African and is marked by art, wars and influence of different cultures.

A strong spiritual belief and respecting other people and nature defines the Khoi and San people, says the leader of the Gorinhaiqua Cultural Council, Chief !Garu Zenzile Khoisan.

!Garu says: “The Khoi and San people believe in the seven !nxau. The !nxau are the seven stages of life, from birth till death, that the Khoi and San people go through.”

The first !nxau is a ceremony to mark the birth of a child. This is followed by the second !nxau, which recognises that a child has reached puberty. At this stage, the child is taught to have absolute respect for the almighty and why the eland is central to the culture of the Khoi and San people.

“The other !nxau stages teach people to accept their identity. This is followed by being given council responsibility, meaning that you lead by example in your community. When a member of the Khoi and San community dies, a final !nxau is held. “This final !nxau is to accompany the dead to the evermore,” !Graru says.

The Khoi and San groups have also helped influence and shape other tribes in South Africa, according to !Garu. An example of this is the clicks in isiXhosa, which were influenced by the amaXhosa living side by side with the Khoi and San nations.

The Khoi and San people coexisted with other tribes as well and this is evidenced through rock paintings that have been carbon dated. According to !Garu, the carbon dating tell us that the Khoi and San nations were living in parts of the country at the same time as other tribes.


9 August is International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.

In 2007, the Khoi and San people were recognised to be the indigenous people of South Africa by the United Nations.

The motto on the South African Coat of Arms – ! ke e: /xarra //ke – is written in a Khoisan language and means ‘diverse people unite’.



Coronavirus update

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced measures to save lives and manage the number of COVID-19 infections. The President said that the country will remain on lockdown Level 3 under tighter regulations.

The entire country remains at level 3 to contain the spread of coronavirus

Level 3 restrictions remain in place:

How you can slow down infections

Observe limits on funerals and worship

Observe prohibition on social and family gatherings

Avoid crowded places and keep at least 2m from others

Wear a cloth face mask at all times in public

Ensure proper ventilation in all public indoor spaces

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or sanitizer.

Level 3 restrictions remain in place

All those above the age of 60, and those with underlying medical conditions, should leave home only in exceptional circumstances

Employers should allow them to work from home where possible, or put special measures in place to facilitate their safety at work


New measures to reduce infections

Wearing a mask in public places is mandatory

Employers, business owners and managers are legally obliged to ensure compliance

Taxis must have some windows open during all journeys

Taxis may have 100% occupancy on local trips and no more than 70% on long distance trips

Sale of alcohol is suspended

This is to prevent hospital capacity being overwhelmed during the peak of infections

Curfew in place between 9pm and 4am

This excludes permitted workers or for urgent medical assistance.


Whatsup support: 0600 123 456

Emergency number: 0800 029 999

Crew Juliet firefighter shares her story

Written by Dale Hes

Women must blaze a trail, says firefighter. 

Young firefighter Vuyiseka Arendse (26) is part of Crew Juliet, South Africa’s first all-female wildland firefighting team. Her strength and determination to make a name for herself in the male-dominated world of firefighting is a true inspiration to all women.

Arendse grew up in the small Western Cape town of Beaufort West. After school, she tried studying at a college in Oudtshoorn, but decided to move back home to support her family. She worked at a supermarket for a while, but then firefighting caught her eye.

“I saw the firefighters in their uniforms and the big red trucks. I immediately became interested and wanted to find out more,” says Arendse. Young firefighter Vuyiseka Arendse is part of South Africa’s first all-women firefighting team. “Women of South Africa, be proud of what you have achieved.” Photo: Alistair Burt - NCC Environmental Services

Arendse was one of the graduates of the Western Cape government’s Chrysalis Academy youth development programme in 2016. After the programme, she worked at the fire station in Beaufort West, earning only R1 900 per month. But then she came across an opportunity offered by NCC Environmental Services last year.

“I was at Chrysalis Academy as a facilitator when NCC came to talk to the students about the opportunity to apply for training for the first all-female wildland firefighting team. Even though I was not one of the students, I was very interested and applied for the training, and I was accepted,” Arendse says.

Arendse went through the training, which combined theory and practical aspects of firefighting.

“I learnt so much. For one, I didn’t know that there were firefighters tasked with putting out wildfires. I had previously thought they only worked in towns to put out fires in buildings,” she says.

Arendse adds that it was an amazing feeling to pass the training and become part of the first all-female firefighting team of its kind.

“I felt very excited, especially because when I had told people I wanted to be a firefighter, many of them said I could not do it because I am a woman and would not cope with the job. This pushed me to show them that I can actually do it, not only for myself but for the rest of the women in South Africa.”

Arendse says that fighting her first major fire in Noordhoek was a challenging but highly rewarding experience.

“It was my first full 24-hour shift and the first time we were working with all the other male firefighters. It was tiring and very hot in our protective gear but we finished the job and the feeling afterwards was very rewarding.”

Arendse encourages the women of South Africa to never underestimate themselves.

“Don’t be defined by what people say you can and can’t do.” 

*To check for more opportunities offered by NCC Environmental Services, follow their Facebook page. You can also call them on 021 702 2884 (Cape Town), 010 007 5272 (Gauteng), 031 003 2964 (KwaZulu-Natal) or 041 101 1033 (Eastern Cape).

Digital door opened for the homeless

If they are to stand a chance of bettering themselves, disadvantaged people need to have basic information technology skills, believes an eThekwini community worker.

A computer training course is giving homeless people in KwaZulu-Natal a second chance. Photo: Sakhasizwe Community ProjectHomeless people around Durban now have the opportunity to improve their lives and become independent, after completing a computer training course offered by the Sakhisizwe Community Project, with the support of local and provincial government. 

A total of 55 homeless people finished the training and now have the knowledge needed to operate a computer and make use of software programmes such as Microsoft Word.

Sakhisizwe is a non-governmental organisation founded by Vumani Gwala, who says they have previously partnered with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development and the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality on various social upliftment programmes.

Gwala hopes that the beneficiaries of Sakhisizwe’s latest project will stand a better chance of finding work opportunities.

“The homeless and vulnerable members of society need to be provided with skills to break out of the cycle of poverty they find themselves in. Working with the homeless shelters used by eThekwini Municipality to house people during the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to order computers and started engaging the homeless and encouraging them to sign up,” Gwala explains.

Sakhisizwe focuses on technology skills development because Gwala and his team believe this is the way to prepare disadvantaged people for the digital world.

“This could very well be the new normal,” says Gwala. “Organisations at community level are the ones that can have a direct impact, sometimes more than government departments, simply because they are led by the community itself. If organisations can make information technology the basic resource for any community, along with the soup kitchens that are so needed, we can plant the seeds they need for the future.” 

Empowering young women

Young Women are being guided on their journey into adulthood.

Young women who want to achieve success in their lives often do not have the mentorship needed to reach their full potential. Non-profit organisation 18twenty8 is focused on filling this gap through its Big Sister Network, which sees established professional women – or Big Sisters – acting as mentors to students – Little Sisters.

Students are benefiting from the mentorship provided by the Big Sister Network. Photo: 18twenty8Refiloe Seseane is the founder and director of 18twenty8. The idea for the organisation came about in 2008, when Seseane, at the age of 28, reflected on what she had accomplished in the previous 10 years of her life.

“I felt like I would have gone a lot further if I had someone mentoring and supporting me,” says Seseane.

This led to 18twenty8 being established in 2011, with the organisation empowering young women between the ages of 18 and 28 through educational and personal development.

The Big Sister Network supports young women who are often the first in their families to go to university and therefore need support and guidance.

“Our network is a pool of educated, professional women who are established in their respective careers and are willing to be a Big Sister to one girl (or more). Big Sisters are mentors who guide and support our Little Sisters during their undergraduate studies by giving them professional exposure and concrete advice,” says Seseane.

Jamilla Muhammed was studying at the University of Pretoria, but was unable to keep funding her studies for her final year in 2018. She came across 18twenty8, which not only paid her outstanding fees, but also took her on as a Little Sister.

“I was able to receive training from seasoned professionals on topics such as leadership, personal branding and mental health, and was also given the opportunity to network with phenomenal women,” says Muhammed, who hopes to complete her Honours degree in 2020.

Big Sister Nokubonga Mbanga, an award-winning training and development leader.

To find out more about  getting support from 18twenty8, call 011 064 4810 or 060 798 7683

Help stop the spread of COVID-19

Our nation is confronted by the gravest crisis in the history of our democracy. For more than 120 days, we have succeeded in delaying the spread of a virus that is causing devastation across the globe.

But now, the surge in infections that we had been advised by our medical experts would come, has arrived. More than a quarter of a million South Africans have been infected with coronavirus, and we know that many more infections have gone undetected. We are now recording over 12,000 new cases every day.

Since the start of the outbreak in March, at least 4,079 people have died from COVID-19.

Like the massive cold fronts that sweep into our country from the South Atlantic at this time of year, there are few parts of the country that will remain untouched by the coronavirus. The coronavirus storm is far fiercer and more destructive than any we have known before. It is stretching our resources and our resolve to their limits.

The surge of infections that our experts and scientists predicted over 3 months ago has now arrived. It started in the Western Cape and is now underway in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

Yet, while infections rise exponentially, it is important to note that our case fatality rate of 1.5 percent is among the lowest in the world. This is compared to a global average case fatality rate of 4.4 percent. We owe the relatively low number of deaths in our country to the experience and dedication of our health professionals and the urgent measures we have taken to build the capacity of our health system.

Even as most of our people have taken action to prevent the spread of the virus, there are others who have not. There are some among us who ignore the regulations that have been passed to combat the disease.

In the midst of such a pandemic, getting into a taxi without a face mask, gathering to meet friends, attending parties or even visiting family, can too easily spread the virus and cost lives. This may be a disease that is caused by a virus, but it is spread by human conduct and behaviour.

Through our own actions – as individuals, as families, as communities – we can and we must change the course of this pandemic in our country. We need to wear a cloth mask that covers our nose and mouth whenever we leave home. We must continue to regularly wash our hands with soap and water or sanitiser. We must continue to clean and sanitise all surfaces in all public spaces. Most importantly, we must keep a safe distance – of at least 2 metres – from other people.

There is now emerging evidence that the virus may also be carried in tiny particles in the air in places that are crowded, closed or have poor air circulation. For this reason we must immediately improve the indoor environment of public places where the risk of infection is greatest.

Our decision to declare a nation-wide lockdown prevented a massive early surge of infections when our health services were less prepared, which would have resulted in a far greater loss of lives.

In the time that we had, we have taken important measures to strengthen our health response. We have conducted more than two million coronavirus tests and community health workers have done more than 20 million screenings.

We have made available almost 28,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and have constructed functional field hospitals across the country. We now have over 37,000 quarantine beds in private and public facilities across the country, ready to isolate those who cannot do so at home.

We have procured and delivered millions of items of personal protective equipment to hospitals, clinics and schools across the country to protect our frontline workers. We have recruited and continue to recruit additional nurses, doctors and emergency health personnel.

We continue to make progress in our efforts to deal with COVID 19, but our greatest challenge still lies ahead. Across all provinces, we are working to further increase the number of general ward and critical beds available for COVID-19 patients.

Ward capacity is being freed up in a number of hospitals by delaying non-urgent care, the conversion of some areas of hospitals into additional ward space and the erection or expansion of field hospitals.

We are working to increase supplies of oxygen, ventilators and other equipment for those who will need critical care, including by diverting the supply of oxygen from other purposes. We are deploying digital technologies to strengthen the identification, tracing and isolation of contacts, and to provide support to those who test positive.

As we now approach the peak of infections, we need to take extra precautions and tighten existing measures to slow down the rate of transmission.

Regulations on the wearing of masks will be strengthened. Employers, shop owners and managers, public transport operators, and managers and owners of any other public building are now legally obliged to ensure that anyone entering their premises or vehicle must be wearing a mask.

Taxis undertaking local trips will now be permitted to increase their capacity to 100 percent, while long distance taxis will not be allowed to exceed 70 percent occupancy, on condition that new risk mitigation protocols related to masks, vehicle sanitising and open windows are followed.

There is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma. We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect.

 As an additional measure to reduce the pressure on hospitals, a curfew will be put in place between the hours of 9pm and 4am.

We are taking these measures fully aware that they impose unwelcome restrictions on people’s lives. They are, however, necessary to see us through the peak of the disease.

There is no way that we can avoid the coronavirus storm. But we can limit the damage that it can cause to our lives. As a nation we have come together to support each other, to provide comfort to those who are ill and to promote acceptance of people living with the virus.

Now, more than ever, we are responsible for the lives of those around us.

We will weather this storm. We will restore our country to health and to prosperity. We shall overcome.

In a class of her own

Written by Allison Cooper

Sophie Mahlangu, an iconic community elder, inspires others to take charge of their lives, no matter their circumstances. 

Master beadwork maker, painter and remarkable cultural entrepreneur and educator Sophie Msoziswa Mahlangu showed the youngsters a thing or two when she recently won the Beaded Category of the 2020 Innibos National Craft Awards.

Her prize of R20 000 – sponsored by the National Department of Arts and Culture – was richly deserved, agree the judges of the competition, who were thrilled at the skill shown in her entry – a colour beaded bicycle.

From a shop at her home, Mahlangu’s co-op, Nomhlekhabo Craft Africa, produces and sells beadwork for local ceremonial use and for the visiting tourist trade. As a custodian of Nzunza Ndebele heritage, she is also a professional performing artist: she sings and dances traditional songs at major celebrations and cultural festivals with her performing group uNosinki Nabomma Bemvelo.

Mahlangu is also a key educator in the traditional Ndebele arts. She and long-time friends Dr Esther Mahlangu and Esther Mnguni teach painting and beadwork to teachers and learners through non-profit company Africa meets Africa’s ongoing Ndebele Women designing Identity project. Africa meets Africa integrates traditional arts and history with mathematics learning in rural schools throughout South Africa, in partnership with district education departments. The intricately beaded bicycles that won the Beading Category of the Innibos National Craft Awards in 2020. Photo: Helene Smuts, Africa meets Africa NPC, (

Sophie learnt her beadwork skills at her mother’s knee. “My mother was a very good beadwork maker,” relates Sophie, now the Ndebele master of the art herself. “As a child, I kept close to her, watching as she organised her needle and thread to start making a piece. I would play around with some loose beads right next to her, so that I could look deeply on the way she worked.”

After gaining experience and confidence, Sophie started making adornments and traditional ceremonial attire on her own.

She believes that women have a natural strength and sense of survival that makes them able to quickly think on their feet. “A woman can make a plan to feed her family when the cupboard is almost bare, whereas most men are not able to think that quickly,” she says.

Her Women’s Month message is that women have a responsibility to teach children about their heritage. “Children may dream about getting a good education and then a good job but times are difficult and their dream might not come true. If they have been taught how to do handiwork and traditional crafts, they will have the means to put food on the table,” she says.

Mahlangu has travelled to Spain and Italy with Dr Mahlangu, where they completed commissions for mural paintings. Sophie has also created mural paintings at local venues such as KwaMhlanga Police Station and at Kagiso Water Park.

Make reading fun for children

It is the job of parents to help their children fall in love with reading.

Book vlogger Vuvu Vena says parents should make reading a fun family activity that they themselves participate in.

“Children naturally want to do what their parents are doing. This means that if they see a parent pick up a book, they will want to do the same,” she says.

The coronavirus lockdown can be used as an opportunity to get children into the culture of reading, says Vena. She says for that to happen, parents need to show their children that reading is a fun activity, rather than a chore.

Vena says that when children do something for fun, they are more receptive than when forced into an activity. “Parents should not force reading on children. They must do it with them as a fun activity, rather than have a set time for reading.”

Try and find stories that have meaning for your children, says author Khulekani Magubane. She says that historically, books focused on western superheroes. That needs to be changed, she says, explaining that parents should look for books about the African continent and its people.

“To get children reading, they must see themselves in the stories we tell. Historically, you found that superheroes were predominantly white men but now we can get children to read about characters that are relatable,” Magubane says.

He says his book The Sirius Squad: Earth’s Last Defence is an Afro sci-fi trilogy that aims to create superheroes that children can relate to.

Both Magubane and Vena say that children who read have an advantage over those who do not.

Vena says: “A child who reads is a curious child who becomes a better adult. Books allow children to create their own worlds and become imaginative.”

Magubane adds that books enable children to be big dreamers.

For parents to get their children interested in reading, Vena says they should:

  • Use oral storytelling
  • Read animatedly to children
  • Get age-appropriate books
  • Buy illustrated books on topics children are interested in
  • Lead by example.

“When reading to children, you must be animated. Be active and have the children join you in your actions when you read to them,” advises Vena. 

For more tips on how to get kids interested in reading, visit Vena’s online site:

New mask regulations in schools

Schools are not allowed to turn away learners for not wearing face masks. 

Face masks and coverings are now mandatory in South Africa, however, according to the new regulations, schools should not turn away learners for not wearing them.

President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced some amended lockdown rules with immediate effect, as the number of COVID-19 infections rise in South Africa.

Masks are now compulsory and those failing to comply will face arrest.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) gazetted the amended government regulations following the President's address to the nation.

According to the department, the principal, owner or manager of an Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre must take all reasonable steps in ensuring that there are sufficient cloth facemasks, homemade or other appropriate items that cover the nose and mouth.

COGTA said these must be provided to learners who may not have.

Should a learner arrive without wearing a mask at an educational institution, they must be supplied with one if possible, the department advised. 

“If the school or ECD centre cannot provide such a learner with an appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, the learner must be isolated and his or her parent, guardian or caregiver must be contacted without delay to bring the item for the learner," the department said.

Alternatively, a school or ECD centre should arrange safe transport for the learner to go back home to pick it up.   ñ

Researcher uses information to fight COVID-19

It no secret that healthcare workers are at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but how do we ensure their safety?  

It has been widely reported that the country has been facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the past few months. This equipment is crucial for healthcare workers to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19 while attending to patients.

Many sectors of society, including business, responded to the shortage by donating PPE equipment to the national Department of Health as well as provincial departments of health.

Katekani Ngobeni, a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has been at the forefront of advising officials on whether the protective gear is safe for use and if it offers sufficient protection for nurses and doctors.

“We were caught off-guard with COVID-19 and we were not prepared for the challenges,” she says.

The CSIR was able to help provincial health departments meet these challenges by offering technical support on various issues, including interpreting the COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations; giving advice on how to adequately protect employees; and helping ensure that activities are carried out within the recommended practice standards, which are based on evidence and international guidelines.

Ngobeni, who was born in Ka’Ndengeza, outside Giyani in Limpopo spent her early life with her grandmother. When joined her parents in Protea Glen, Soweto, she was forced to repeat Grade Three because she did not understand a word of English.

In high school, she found inspiration in a young female environmental health practitioner, who was a friend of her mother.

She decided to follow in her footsteps and after matriculating, enrolled for a National Diploma in Environmental Health with the University of Johannesburg. She went on to obtain her B Tech (equivalent to a degree qualification) and after joining the CSIR in 2011 as an infection control specialists, she did a Master’s degree, exploring the use of respiratory protection devices in low-income healthcare settings.

She urges young people to play an active role in the fight against the virus.

“Young people have a huge role to play during this pandemic. We need to educate ourselves and others about the importance of hygiene and living a healthy life.”  ñ

Self-isolation in a nutshell

What does it mean when you have to self-isolate? Vuk’uzenzele helps with all you need to know. 

As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to rise across the country, people who test positivae for the virus, those who have been in close contact with them and those with COVID-19 symptoms must isolate themselves from other people for 14 days.

You can either isolate at home, which is called self-isolation, or at a designated isolation facility.

Self-isolation is a way to keep yourself from possibly infecting others if you think you might be infected. It involves limiting contact with public places, relatives, friends colleagues, and public transport.

A person who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive must also self-isolate, even if they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, you have been in close contact if you had face-to-face contact, within one metre, or were in a closed space, for more than 15 minutes, with a person with COVID-19.

In addition, this contact happened while the person with COVID-19 was still infectious, which is from two days before their symptoms began to 14 days after.

Why must I self-isolate?

If you have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, you could have the virus too. Even if you are not sick and have no symptoms at all, you can still infect other people with the virus. Those people who become infected, can infect others.

Staying at home in self-isolation will thus help to control the possible spread of the virus to your friends, relatives and wider community, especially those who are more vulnerable to severe illness.

Anyone who may have been in close contact with a known positive case and who is awaiting their test results must self-isolate as a precaution until the test results become available. If that person tested positive, you must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone in the household develops symptoms during the 14-day isolation period, they should be tested and the isolation period should be followed, starting from the day their symptoms started.

If someone cannot safely isolate at home, the health department can refer you to an isolation facility, where you will receive temporary care away from home.

If you are self-isolating with mild symptoms and start to feel worse, talk to a healthcare provider immediately. Symptoms that may require you to go to hospital include shortness of breath and pain in your chest.

Self-isolation dos and don’ts

When self-isolating you must:

  • Stay at home, in your own room if possible.
  • Do not share a bed.
  • Limit contact with people, other than those you are self-isolating with.
  • Wash your hands frequently, with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, before drying them with a clean single-use towel; or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Use a cloth face mask if you leave the room in which you are self-isolating, or if someone enters to, for example, bring you food.
  • If you do not have a mask, make one from clothing.
  • Make sure other people in the home wear a cloth mask.
  • Throw used tissues in a lined trash can and immediately wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use your own toothbrush.
  • Use your own eating and drinking utensils.
  • Use your own towels, washcloths and bed linen.
  • Wash your clothing and dishes separately.
  • Minimise the time you spend in shared spaces, such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms and make sure everyone wears a mask, including you, at these times.
  • Keep shared spaces well ventilated.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces like kitchen benches and sink tops after you use them.
  • If you share a toilet or bathroom, clean and disinfect them every time you use them.
  • Use your own roll of toilet paper, hand towels, toothpaste and other supplies.
  • Take meals back to your room to eat.
  • Avoid contact with the elderly and people with co-morbidities.
  • Reduce contact with children, if possible.

When self-isolating, you must not:

  • Leave your home.
  • Use public transport.
  • Visit any public place.
  • Have visitors come to your home.
  • Share food or drink with anyone else.
  • Prepare food for others.

COVID-19 contact resources:

  • National Department of Health:
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases:
  • COVID-19 Hotline Number: 0800 029 999
  • COVID-19 WhatsApp Number: 0600 12 3456
  • COVID-19 free website:

South Africa acts to address ventilator shortage

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

A locally developed ventilator will help patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms to breathe easier.

The fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in South Africa has been boosted with the production of the first ventilator made in the country.

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) ventilator helps patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 to breathe easier by providing a mild level of oxygenated air pressure to keep their airways open. 

The ventilator was designed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with a number of local partners and will be rolled out nationwide to patients showing respiratory distress in the early phase of COVID-19 infection.

“The air a person normally breaths has a 23 percent concentration of oxygen. The CPAP ventilator can pump a higher amount of oxygen, helping a person breathe. The CPAP pumps continuous concentrated oxygen. You can increase or decrease the amount of oxygen one is breathing in,” says Executive Manager of CSIR Future Production: Manufacturing Martin Sanne.

Patients using the ventilator are connected via a face mask. Oxygen is drawn from an oxygen gas tank and is mixed with natural air in the ventilator, from where it is transmitted to the mask and breathed in by the patient. Sanne says that in addition to pumping oxygenated air, the CPAP also helps patients exhale.

The CPAP device can be used in both high-tech clinical environments and temporary settings, such as field hospitals and quarantine facilities.

Sanne says the CSIR will have produced 10 000 ventilators by the end of August.  Working with Siemens, Simera, Akacia, Gabler, Umoya and the University of Cape Town, the CSIR produced the CPAP according to World Health Organisation standards.

The first batch of ventilators will be given to state hospitals experiencing pressure due to the unavailability of equipment to deal with COVID-19.

The CSIR started working on the CPAP after the world began experiencing an extreme shortage in ventilators. “Around March and April, there suddenly became a short supply of ventilators from our international suppliers. Where you could get them, they were very expensive so government issued a tender for the production of ventilators,” says Sanne.

The tender was part of the government’s National Ventilator Project within the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition.

The CSIR is also working on a Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure ventilator aimed at helping patients with more severe symptoms of COVID-19. The ventilator will assist with both inhalation and exhalation, either in fixed pressure modes or by sensing the oxygen supply required by a patient and adjusting the pressure accordingly. 

Sporting Codes back in action

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

After being grounded for four months, sporting bodies, national teams and clubs return to controlled training and playing.

Sports people are returning to the field, following the coronavirus-imposed shutdown of sporting activities in South Africa and across the globe.

Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has given the go-ahead for non-contact and contact sports to resume training. Non-contact sports can also resume play under stringent health and safety conditions. One of the more significant regulations is that fans are not allowed at games or practices.

Cricket South Africa’s Chief Medical Officer Shuaib Manjra says the high-performance training squad, which is mainly made up of Proteas players, has resumed non-contact training, following the implementation of measures to protect players and staff from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Manjra says they have worked with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to ensure their protocols are appropriate. Prevention measures include the regular testing of players and support staff, promoting personal hygiene measures and creating a sanitised ecosystem.

“COVID-19 compliance managers at each venue have assumed responsibility to ensure all the elements of the protocols are implemented,” he says.

The Proteas’ training sessions are closed to the public and games will also to be played behind closed doors.

The Department of Sports, Arts Culture (DSAC) has announced that the following professional sports are also allowed to resume training and host matches: Premier Soccer League, the South African Anglers and Casting Confederation; SA Gymnastics Federation, Tennis SA, SA National Climbing Federation, Canoeing SA and Swimming SA.

Spokesperson for the DSAC Masechaba Khumalo says: “These sport bodies have submitted their plans, indicating their state of readiness and their commitment to adhere to stringent health protocols that they will implement in accordance with the prescribed regulations and directions.”

The department has published a circular that gives directions on what these sporting codes must do to be allowed to resume their activities.

According to the circular, non-contact sporting codes must keep a register containing the details of athletes, support staff and match official for at least six months. They must also ensure that all people who enter sport venues are screened for COVID-19 symptoms.

The fields and dressing rooms must be disinfected before any sporting activity takes place and athletes must declare that, according to the best of their knowledge, they are COVID-19 free. 

Sportswomen unleash girl power

An interactive website is working hard to get sportswomen the recognition they deserve.

Well-known sports journalist Kass Naidoo is dedicated to ensuring that sportswomen receive the exposure through her gsport4girls initiative.

The initiative focuses on sharing the stories of sportswomen in South Africa, from emerging stars to established professionals. Articles and blog posts are shared on the gsports website, while the organisation also honours inspirational sportswomen and women working in sports media, at the gsport awards every year. 

“The gsport initiative was founded to tell the untold story of women in sport,” says Naidoo, “but gsport goes beyond that and supports emerging and disadvantaged sportswomen through consistent media coverage.”

This ensures these stars gain prominence. It also helps their brands become commercially viable, which helps them make a living out of sport, she says.

Sportswomen can sign up to become members on the site.

“The membership allows members to use free gsport online tools to build their brand by blogging and promoting their athletic and/or professional achievements, to update the women’s sport calendar with women-in-sport calendar events and to post free adverts to promote their brands and women-in-sport business opportunities in the gsport classifieds,” Naidoo explains.

The organisation also focuses on job creation and skills development. “This year, gsport’s big focus is job creation. The initiative will ensure that members benefit directly from the 2020 Momentum gsport Awards campaign, by providing awards campaign-related services in the form of short-term work opportunities,” Naidoo says.

The first gsport member to benefit is Lonwabo Miso-Nkohla, who was appointed on 1 July as the awards campaign’s sub-editor.

“It is such an honour to be part of gsport. I applied because I was looking for an opportunity in sport that would help me grow in my career. I hope to do my bit for the young girl who is fighting to be heard, seen and acknowledged,” says Miso-Nkohla.

“Women’s sport needs to turn fully professional for us to truly claim that we are succeeding. For now, everyone is doing their best to play their part in changing the game, but until there is a strong commercial structure around women’s sport, telling positive stories alone will only change so much,” Naidoo says. 

If you are a sportswoman or have an interest in women’s sport, sign up at

Stop the stigma around COVID-19

Do not blame and shame people who have COVID-19. Instead, find out more about the virus and understand that it is a worldwide pandemic that can affect anyone. Construction worker Collin Ngwenya says that he experienced stigma after recovering from Covid-19.

While we all need to take action to protect ourselves from the coronavirus (COVID-19), we should not treat people with COVID-19 as outcasts in society.

As cases of the disease continue to grow, South Africans are understandably fearful for the safety of themselves and their loved ones. It is important to keep your distance from people who are sick and to practice good hygiene. But this does not mean that you should look down on COVID-19 patients.

Dr Tammy Duncan, a doctor working in the Gauteng public health sector, says that she has seen a stigma emerging around COVID-19.

“People who contract COVID-19 are often not treated with the respect they deserve. People are fearful of them and have a tendency to display anger and negativity towards them,” says Dr Duncan.

Duncan says that it is important to note that COVID-19 can affect anyone, and contracting it is often not the fault of the patient.

“Since the virus spreads so easily, it is easy to contract COVID-19, and often there was no way that these people could have prevented catching the virus. Even people who take all the necessary protective measures can contract COVID-19.”

Duncan adds that due to stigma, many people are reluctant to seek medical care when they are experiencing symptoms.

“People are scared of how they will be treated if they test positive. It is very important to seek medical treatment if you are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath because it can save your life.”

Collin Ngwenya, a construction worker in Johannesburg, contracted COVID-19 but has since recovered. He does not know exactly how he contracted the virus, because he always wore a mask and washed his hands. But he says he was insulted by members of his community when he returned home from being in quarantine in hospital.

“Members of the community were still scared of me and some of them were nasty, calling me names and telling me to stay away from them. I actually got a bit scared for my safety because there was a lot of anger towards me,” says Ngwenya.

Ngwenya encourages people to educate themselves about the illness. “People must realise that when a positive person has recovered, they are free from COVID-19.”

He appeals to people to practice social distancing and proper hygiene and to seek medical assistance if they have symptoms of the virus.

The new normal

Township sewing co-op keeps thriving

A needle and thread helped a Gauteng entrepreneur stitch up a brighter future for herself and her community.  Hluvuko Designs employs 32 women from Alex. Photo: Netcare

Ponani Shikweni is an Alexandra local who has gone from teaching herself how to sew, to running a business which employs 32 previously unemployed people in the township.

Shikweni started sewing in 2014, using only her hands. She then taught herself to sew with a machine, and began making clothes. Recognising that unemployed young women in the township could easily fall into the trap of substance abuse, she started getting these youth on board.  

“I hired six other women. These young women were unemployed and had very few opportunities until I recruited them to join our co-operative, Hluvuko Designs. Having no income and no job can lead people to some desperate, dangerous actions, and so we are also helping them avoid getting involved with drugs and crime,” says Shikweni.

In 2015, private hospital group Netcare heard about Shikweni’s good work and decided to support her through their transformation initiative.

“Ponani and the ladies from Hluvuko Designs impressed us from the start,” says Dr Nceba Ndzwayiba, Netcare’s Director of Transformation.

Netcare helped Shikweni get her business registered in 2019, and commissioned the team to sew items such as conference bags, pillowcases and blankets. Netcare also assisted with training on how to run a factory.

With the arrival of COVID-19, there was suddenly a massive demand for face masks, so Shikweni started sewing masks.

“Netcare asked us to make 10 000 cloth face masks for their staff members and we got another big order for 20 000 facemasks from the Youth Employment Service initiative and Exemplar, which hands out the masks for free to people shopping at Alex Mall,” says Shikweni.

Due to the demand, Shikweni was able to hire more people from the township. The business now employs 32 Alex women, 19 of which are youth.

“We have bought more big sewing machines and we recently bought our own vehicle, which is already making a big difference to our business,” she says.

Shikweni encourages young women to always surround themselves with positive people who can help them out of difficult circumstances.

She adds that people who want to be entrepreneurs should follow their heart. “Don’t listen to the people who criticise you. Be strong and do what your heart tells you to do, and put everything into that.”

UIF tightens relief payment controls

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has introduced new stringent controls to verify banking details of recipients to stop criminals from accessing the COVID-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme.

As part of the new control measures, the Fund has also introduced a new rule to the system that requires applicants to insert either their enterprise number (CK/CIPC) or the ID number of the bank account holder in the TERS Online portal.

This has been introduced in order to further verify banking details against the authorised claimant.

“This requirement which may seem onerous is critical to ensure banking details are verified before any TERS payment is authorised. Failure to populate the system properly will unfortunately lead to more delays in the payment process,” said UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping.

Fighting fraud

The Commissioner added that the Fund has been at the receiving end of fraud complaints after it emerged that certain individuals managed to change banking details of their companies and inserted their own.

“This situation has created a need for us to do an upfront account verification and validation before the payment is made, and we expect this to increase our turnaround time by two days as the accounts are verified and validated to ensure that fraud at company level is eliminated and reduced as far as possible.”

“We cannot overemphasise how important it is for companies to provide correct information that can be validated and verified with the banks so that there are no delays with the payment,” said Maruping.

The new changes come on the back of the Fund having paid up to R 1 billion directly into the bank accounts of 238 086 employees since April 2020. Direct payments to employees have not been affected by the new measures.   ñ


To date since April 16, the UIF has paid just under R30 billion covering 6 789 695 workers from 539 953 employers?

What would people have said

Young woman shines a light on her success

Written by Allison Cooper

Lebogang Sadiki may only be 26-years-old, but she has her feet firmly planted on the ground and her head in the game.

Lebogang Sadiki has big plans for her business.The owner of S'Africa Lamp Designs, Sadiki was born and raised in Winterveldt, North of Tshwane. In 2019, she launched S’Africa Lamp Designs, which has an online store.

“I am deeply passionate about S’Africa Lamp Designs. It’s a fresh concept looking at modern African contemporary lamp designs. My lamps and lamp shades are made to represent different African tribes, especially South African tribes,” she says.

Her inspiration came from Africans, who she describes as ‘colourful, bold and beautiful’. “This is exactly what my brand celebrates. It was a profound moment for me when I conceptualised my idea of using different African colours and the cultures they represent, to decorate homes,” she says.

Sadiki, who completed her basic education in Tshwane before studying accounting at the University of Johannesburg, says S'Africa Lamp Designs is about more than just designing lamps. “It's also a way for me to celebrate my ancestors through art. I saw a gap in the market and I created a unique product that is practical and a beautiful representation of our diverse cultures,” she says.

While launching a new business is always challenging, Sadiki had the added impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) to contend with. “COVID-19 has made it harder to grow the business, but I am working tirelessly to make a success of it. It has been received well, people love the concept and the support has been great,” she says.

As for the future, Sadiki is looking forward to expanding her company into the commercial market and introducing S'Africa Home Decor.

“I am still writing the success story of my life. I still see myself as an ambitious entrepreneur and a game changer. The potential to grow it into something bigger has been my motivation since the inception of the business,” she says.

Her message to women is that there’s no dream too big to follow. “Women are the epitome of hard work and everything beautiful, and we should strive to follow our dreams,” she says