COVID-19: South Africans Rush to Liquor Stores As Booze Ban Lifts

A man purchases beer at a liquor store in Pretoria on June 1, 2020. – South Africa moved into level three of a five-tier lockdown on June 1, 2020, to continue efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Under level three, all but high-risk sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen. Liquor sales will resume, but for home consumption only. Emmanuel Croset / AFP.

 

Scores of people lined up outside liquor stores in South Africa’s township of Soweto on Monday, waiting to stock up on drinks after a nine-week ban on alcohol sales as part of a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Buying booze was prohibited when Africa’s most industrialised economy went into lockdown on March 27.

The ban — meant to ease pressure on emergency wards and prevent a feared spike in domestic violence — was lifted for home consumption on Monday as South Africa moved down to level 3 of its five-tier shutdown.

The mood was festive in Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, where customers carrying crates of empty beer bottles waited out the meandering lines, some stationed in their cars, blasting loud music from their stereos.

“We are overwhelmed, over the moon, so excited,” said queuing customer Bongani Khumalo.

“This place is jamming,” he exclaimed, adding that celebrations were expected throughout the township.

READ ALSO: Tanzania Reopens Universities Despite COVID-19 Concerns

“I’m here to buy my beloved beer,” said Anele Mapoma, 31.

“It has been a while since I had a taste of that foam and burping (so) I am here so early to satisfy my habit.”

Another Soweto resident admitted she had been looking forward to “this day for an entire month”.

“I had to wake up super early to be here so I’m all good now,” said the unnamed 24-year-old as he stood outside a liquor store in the suburb of Pimville.

-‘Traumatising’ black market-

As shop doors opened at 9:00 am, customers queueing in face masks were ordered to keep a safe distance from one another and allowed entry one small group at a time.

Security guards took their temperature at the door and anyone with a fever was turned away.

South Africans still harboured mixed feelings about the controversial booze ban, which caused black market sales to flourish.

“That one was very traumatising whereby people had to get liquor illegally, they raised prices so high,” said Khumalo.

“It’s month’s end, people got paid and others are excited to go back to work, I think people have every reason to celebrate.”

But for 22-year-old Asenathi Faleni, a self-confessed “serious drinker”, the government’s decision to shutter the alcohol market was a brilliant idea.

“The virus would have spread much more because as drinkers we don’t really listen once we’re drunk,” Faleni said.

“We just want to be out and about and around people and at taverns, and the taverns get full.”

Under level 3 all but high-risk sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen, as will schools and places of worship.

An ongoing ban on cigarette sales remains a thorny issue, however, with British American Tobacco South Africa launching legal proceedings against the government last week.

– Balancing Act –

Government’s ban on alcohol has faced resistance from the onset with businesses bemoaning the mushrooming of illegal markets.

The country ranks 30th in the world in terms of per capita alcohol consumption, according to 2010 figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

At the beginning of the lockdown, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence had also warned that a sudden cut in supply of alcohol causes physical and mental problems.

But Police Minister Bheki Cele insisted the move was astute, even attributing the decline in crimes such as murder and hijacking to the ban.

“I wish (the) alcohol ban could be extended beyond lockdown,” Cele said.

The country has recorded more than 32,600 infections so far, including 683 deaths.

Health experts have predicted that South Africa’s coronavirus outbreak will peak between July and November, causing at least 40,000 deaths.

AFP

Two South Africans Contaminated By Coronavirus In Japan

File photo of machine screening for Coronavirus in travellers at Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

Two South Africans were contaminated by the new coronavirus while serving as crew members aboard a cruise ship that was quarantined for three weeks in Japan, officials said Friday.

The pair, the first South Africans confirmed to have the virus, are being cared for in Japan but they do not show symptoms of the illness linked to COVID-19, South Africa’s health ministry said.

The government was informed by Tokyo that there were 12 South African crew members working on the Princess Diamond cruise ship when it was hit by  COVID-19 and that two had tested positive, the ministry said.

“They are currently being treated in Japan and the latest reports indicate that they are currently asymptomatic.”

Until now, no one in South Africa has been officially confirmed to have the virus.

The authorities in Pretoria announced Thursday that the 132 of their citizens will be repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic.

Officially, only three people have been contaminated on the African continent — one in Egypt, one in Algeria and one in Nigeria. None has died.

The new coronavirus has contaminated more than 80,000 people and cost the lives of nearly 3,000 people worldwide, the vast majority in China, according to the latest tally by AFP based on official sources.

AFP

South Africans Head To Polls Tipped To Be Won By ANC

An elderly partially blind voter is assisted by a relative and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials to cast her vote during the sixth general elections at the Wiggins Community hall in Cato Manor in Durban, South Africa, on May 8, 2019.  PHOTO: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

 

South Africans on Wednesday headed to the polls but certain to return the ruling ANC despite anger over corruption scandals, sluggish growth, and record unemployment.

The election is the first measure of whether President Cyril Ramaphosa can reinvigorate support for a party whose backing rests largely on its liberation credentials, but now faces the prospect of a reduced majority.

“The ANC has been in power for the past 25 years and I don’t see any change,” lamented unemployed father-of-two Jacob Maretlwa, 30, who lives in a shack in Coligny in the North West province.

Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year after the ANC, which first swept to power in 1994, forced then-President Jacob Zuma to resign after a nine-year term dominated by corruption allegations and a struggling economy.

Zuma oversaw the party’s most significant drop in support in the democratic era.

“This is a vote that reminds us of 1994… heralding a new period,” Ramaphosa said after casting his ballot at a school in Chiawelo, Soweto, and described himself as “excitedly confident” of the outcome.

“I am truly humbled by the turnout… it’s a vote for the democratic system we have been building for 25 years,” he said.

“This is like a rocket booster for democracy.”

The 1994 vote saw Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress take power in the country’s first multi-racial polls, marking the end of apartheid.

Support for the ANC has fallen in every election since 2004 with the party taking 54 percent in 2016 municipal elections, compared with 62 percent in 2014’s national vote.

Most opinion surveys suggest the ANC will secure nearly 60 percent of the Wednesday’s vote, thanks to Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.

“It reflects the weakness of the opposition, more than it does reflect the achievements of the ANC,” said political scientist Collette Schulz-Herzenberg from Stellenbosch University.

‘Not happy with the ANC’

The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.

“It’s not easy to make the right choice,” said Soweto-based first-time voter Nokuthula Shongwe, 18, who stated her priorities as unemployment and crime. “I’m nervous.”

The economy grew just 0.8 percent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among young people.

Of the 47 opposition parties in the race, only the main opposition centrist Democratic Alliance (DA) and the radical-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are major players.

The DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party.

Its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, is contesting his maiden general election since taking the helm in 2015, and is expected to make modest gains on the DA’s 2014 vote share of 22 percent.

“Vote for the future of this country and the South Africans who are unemployed,” Maimane said after voting in Soweto, insisting the poll was not “a beauty pageant but a contract” between voters and their representatives.

‘People died for us to vote’

“This vote is about competence… so we can clean up this country,” added Maimane, wearing a suit in the DA’s signature blue and posed for selfies with voters.

But the EFF, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, is predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 percent to a forecast 11 percent.

“A lot of people died for us to vote — we are here to honour their memories,” said Malema as he cast his ballot in Seshego in eastern Limpopo province.

“If you need change, EFF is the way to go,” added Malema, sporting his signature red and a green baseball cap with a red star.

The party, which appeals mainly to young voters and the poor, has campaigned on a policy of seizing land from white owners to give to blacks.

Enforced land redistribution is also ANC policy — alarming some investors.

About 26.8 million voters are registered to cast their ballots at 22,925 polling stations countrywide.

Polls opened at 7.00 am (0500 GMT) and are due to close at 9.00 pm.

Preliminary results will emerge on Thursday, with an official winner declared on Saturday.

The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the country’s president, who will be sworn in on May 25.

“The outcome of this election will be a major boost for investors… and investor confidence, it’s about confidence and about the future,” Ramaphosa said after making his cross.

“We apologise for our mistakes.”

AFP

Disappointed S.Africans React To France’s Choice As Rugby World Cup Host

South Africans reacted with disappointment on Wednesday after the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was surprisingly awarded to France.

The Council of the sport’s governing body went against the recommendations of an extensive evaluation report in a secret ballot.

South Africa had been recommended by World Rugby’s Board but in a second ballot, the Council members voted convincingly 24-15 for France, which also held the tournament in 2007.

It was the first time the Board’s recommendation has been ignored and the decision was immediately followed by questions over the selection process and the point of running an extensive and transparent evaluation process only for the decision to be taken in secret.

The shock announcement by World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont in London was greeted by a moment of stunned silence before the French delegation delivered a muffled cheer.

Ireland, which has never hosted the World Cup on its own, was eliminated after the first round when it secured eight votes to the 13 of South Africa and 18 of France.

The bidding countries did not take part in the ballot. The remaining Six Nations and SANZAR countries had three votes each with the rest made up from the six regional associations and smaller rugby countries.

Read Also: France To Host 2023 Rugby World Cup

South Africa, which staged the 1995 tournament, winning it in their first appearance after missing the first two because of the apartheid sporting ban, had been an odds-on favourite after coming out clearly on top of the evaluation report.

Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said he was “desolated”.

Reuters

South Africans Take To Streets Ahead Of No-Confidence Vote

In Cape Town, where the South African parliament is located, thousands of opposition supporters held a rally on Tuesday (August 8) as a parliamentary debate on a motion of no-confidence in the scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma was underway.

Protesters were carrying posters saying “Fire Zuma” and a cartoon of Zuma in a dustbin.

The leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance urged South African lawmakers to oust President Jacob Zuma at the start of the parliamentary debate.

Zuma, who has held power since 2009, would have to relinquish office if he loses the vote expected once the debate ends, however, lawmakers in South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) pledged to back President Jacob Zuma in a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

South Africans Want Violence Against Women Treated As National Crisis

South African men led a march to protest violence against women and confront men with the reality that they too must fight for women’s rights.

Hundreds marched through the capital, Pretoria to express their anger at rising cases of attacks on women and children.

“Men are providers; men are protectors of our families. We need to be man enough. Enough is enough!” said protester, Floyd Cingca.

“It is time that we act. Stop tweeting, stop Facebooking and go to the streets. That’s where the problem is. It’s time that you and I come together and take action,” Kholofelo Masha, one of the organisers of the march.

One in five South African women older than 18 experience gender-based violence, a 2016 Statistics South Africa’s Demographic and Health Survey showed.

The report also found that four in 10 divorced or separated women reported physical violence by a partner, as well as one in three women in the poorest households.

These statistics have raised concern among gender rights groups that the government of South Africa is doing little to address what activists have called “a war against women”.

“We are dying… our humanity is taken away without even our consent, our bodies are violated that is what is happening so we are here to just pledge, we are here to display solidarity for the ones that we have lost already and to actually ensure safety in the communities, to beg for security from the law of South Africa because the justice system of South Africa, it keeps on failing us all the time. So we are begging for this issue to actually be concluded as a national state of emergency.

About two weeks ago, South Africa was rocked by the news of the brutal murder of 22-year-old, Karabo Mokoena. Her burnt body was found in a field in north Johannesburg, a day after she went missing. Her 27-year-old boyfriend has been charged with the murder.

Karabo’s death sparked outrage and discussion as women on social media shared their personal stories of physical abuse at the hands of men.

Her uncle, Tshepo Mokoena says Karabo’s family even in grieving, hoped her death would help to end the violence against women and force authorities to act.

“Her death came to me and brought a lot of pain into my heart. But the flipside of it, it has awakened the whole world. It has brought some bit of drop into the killing. Even other men who were about to do it – I’m sure once they look at the news; they look at how women are angry and how the whole world is angry.

Then I’m sure they would come to their senses and said, ‘you know what, maybe let me not do it,” he said.

“The biggest challenge in our country is that we talk, talk, talk… and nothing happens. And six months down the line, what happens; there’s another man who kills a woman, there’s another man who assaults a woman. So now, what we must do as men, we must stand up and go to the government, and start changing certain laws,” he added.

“Whether we need to introduce harsher laws or change the laws – this I think we must discuss. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed,” South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said as he visited the family of a three-year-old girl who was raped and killed last week.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and has long been known as the “rape capital of the world”.

Women’s rights campaigner Nondumiso Nsibande says the government and society at large are dangerously complacent towards sexual violence and gender-based violence that some men are not ashamed to admit to it.

“A part of this could also be the way we’ve been socialised. Often time’s men are socialised to behave in a particular way. Men are strong; men are protectors; men should not be in touch with their emotions and all of that. And often times we find that it could actually lead to the situation where they express their anger and frustration by beating women and it’s not something that’s acceptable,” she said.

Activists are pushing for a clear plan on how violence against women can be addressed by government authorities, civil society and the private sector and urge every South African to take on the responsibility to uphold the safety of women and children.

Femicide Should Be Treated As National Crisis – South Africans

South African men have led a march to protest violence against women and confront men with the reality that they too must fight for women’s rights.

Hundreds marched through the capital, Pretoria to express their anger at rising cases of attacks on women and children.

“Men are providers; men are protectors of our families. We need to be man-enough. Enough is enough!” said protester, Floyd Cingca.

“It is time that we act. Stop tweeting, stop facebook-ing and go to the streets.

That’s where the problem is. It’s time that you and I come together and take action,” Kholofelo Masha, one of the organisers of the march.

One in five South African women older than 18 experience gender-based violence, a 2016 Statistics South Africa’s Demographic and Health Survey showed.

The report also found that four in 10 divorced or separated women reported physical violence by a partner, as well as one in three women in the poorest households.

These statistics have raised concern among gender rights groups that the government of South Africa is doing little to address what activists have called “a war against women”.

“We are dying… our humanity is taken away without even our consent, our bodies are violated that is what is happening so we are here to just pledge, we are here to display solidarity for the ones that we have lost already and to actually ensure safety in the communities, to beg for security from the law of South Africa because the justice system of South Africa, it keeps on failing us all the time. So we are begging for this issue to actually be concluded as a national state of emergency.

About two weeks ago, South Africa was rocked by the news of the brutal murder of 22-year-old, Karabo Mokoena. Her burnt body was found in a field in north Johannesburg, a day after she went missing. Her 27-year-old boyfriend has been charged with the murder.

Karabo’s death sparked outrage and discussion as women on social media shared their personal stories of physical abuse at the hands of men.

Her uncle, Tshepo Mokoena says Karabo’s family even in grieving, hoped her death would help to end the violence against women and force authorities to act.

“Her death came to me and brought a lot of pain into my heart. But the flipside of it, it has awakened the whole world. It has brought some bit of drop into killing. Even other men who were about to do it – I’m sure once they look at the news; they look at how women are angry and how the whole world is angry. Then I’m sure they would come to their senses and said, ‘you know what, maybe let me not do it,” he said.

“The biggest challenge in our country, is that we talk, talk, talk… and nothing happens. And six months down the line, what happens; there’s another man who kills a woman, there’s another man who assault a woman. So now, what we must do as men, we must stand up and go to government, and start changing certain laws,” he added.

“Whether we need to introduce more harsher laws or change the laws – this I think we must discuss. It’s a crisis in the country, the manner in which women and children are being killed,” South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said as he visited the family of a three-year old girl who was raped and killed last week.

South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and has long been known as the “rape capital of the world”.

Women’s rights campaigner, Nondumiso Nsibande says the government and society at large are dangerously complacent towards sexual violence and gender based violence that some men are not ashamed to admit to it.

“A part of this could also be the way we’ve been socialized. Often time’s men are socialized to behave in a particular way. Men are strong; men are protectors; men should not be in touch with their emotions and all of that. And often times we find that it could actually lead to the situation where they express their anger and frustration by beating women and it’s not something that’s acceptable,” she said.

Activists are pushing for a clear plan on how violence against women can be addressed by government authorities, civil society and the private sector and urge every South African to take on the responsibility to uphold the safety of women and children.

South Africans Stage Anti-foreigners March

Memelodi residents stage anti-foreigners march in Pretoria, South AfricaThe much talked about anti-foreigners protest has taken place in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital.

The concerned Mamelodi residents who organised the march presented a Memorandum of Grievances and Demands to the Departments of Labour and Home Affairs.

sa
South Africans stage anti-foreigners protest at the Department of Home Affairs

They expressed worry over criminal foreign nationals who they claimed were abusing the country’s hospitality by engaging their children in prostitution and drugs among other ills.

There were also parallel marches, some of which turned violent.

Meanwhile, about 156 people were arrested on Friday for various crimes during the anti-foreigners march.

The South Africa National Police Chief, Khomotso Phahlane, said the suspects were arrested for random acts of violence, looting and destruction of property.

At one of the locations where the march took place, the crowd became unruly with both sides shouting at one another, prompting the police to disperse the angry mobs.

Police disperse angry protesters
Police disperse angry protesters at one of the locations

Many shops were shattered in Marabastad, an area where many foreign nationals have their stores.

The protest follows the looting of at least 20 small businesses believed to be operated by Nigerian and Pakistani immigrants in an area in west Pretoria.

Zuma Visits Flash Flood Victims

Zuma Visits Flash Flood VictimsSouth Africans on the banks of the Jukskei River in Johannesburg have been counting their losses following flash floods that hit low lying areas of Gauteng Province.

President Jacob Zuma and Gauteng Premier, David Makhura visited some of those affected in the Alexandra Township on Tuesday.

About six people were reported dead following the floods. A 4-year-old girl is among those swept away and divers are still searching for her remains.

Bayana Bayana Get $100,000 For Olympic Qualification

bayana bayanaSouth African women football team, Bayana Bayana, will get $100,000 for qualifying for 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The South Africans stunned 2-time African Champions, Equatorial Guinea, with a 1-0 away victory in Bata after drawing 0-0 at home, to reach their second successive Olympic Games.

Sponsors, Sasol and the South African Football Association surprised the women’s national team by pledging a $50,000 bonus each.

Coach Vera Pauw has been handed a life line to lead the Bayana Bayana to the Games.

ECOWAS Parliament Condenms Xenophobic Attacks

ECOWAS ParliamentThe ECOWAS Parliament has tasked the South African government to fish out perpetrators of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa and have them prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.

Speaker of the Parliament, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, told the Parliament that the attacks scorn international treaties and charters on human rights, go against the realities of globalization and are unacceptable.

Members of Parliament said that the act is barbaric, shameful and a total betrayal of the collective sacrifice by the people of the continent to end apartheid in South Africa

They refereed to it as an unacceptable crime against humanity especially against people who played significant roles in the freedom South Africans enjoy today.

While the Parliament might not be in a position to sanction the country, strong condemnations will arise from the debates by member countries during its ordinary session over the next two weeks.

It was the first ordinary session of the third legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament for the year, 2015.

Other issues on the agenda for the meeting include the progressive fight against Ebola in the region and the rising death toll of African immigrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

Issues of elections both the successful and up-coming, especially the need for peace and credibility in up-coming elections in members states such as Guinea, Cote d’ivore, and Burkina-Faso, will also be discussed.

South African Troops, Others Join Fight Against Boko Haram

Niger RepublicSouth African troops as well as other foreign soldiers have joined in Nigeria’s offensive against Boko Haram insurgents in the nation’s north east region, engaging in ground combat and flying combat air sorties.

According to VOA, the Federal Government explained that the foreign military personnel were only advisers accompanying military equipment purchased from South Africa, Russia and Ukraine.

Activities of the extremist group seeking to impose Islamic rule in the region have caused the death of several thousands and displaced over 1 million people in northern Nigeria.

“One soldier, who is living alongside the foreign personnel in a barracks in the city of Maiduguri, identified the foreigners as South Africans, Ukrainians and others. He said they were flying aircraft from the Maiduguri airport.”

The corporal, who was also based in the barracks in Maiduguri, said South African pilots had been flying combat missions using Nigerian jets, surveillance planes and helicopters, along with jets he said appeared to be South African.

“All the aerial attacks are being done by the white soldiers using Nigerian and hired military aircraft,” he said.

Another officer, who served as a top aide to the Commander of a Brigade in Borno state, told VOA there were between 100 and 150 foreign soldiers, mainly South African, working out of Maiduguri and they were flying fighter jets daily, out of the Maiduguri airport.