South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Thursday 2 April
Never miss a beat when it comes to the latest news in South Africa; be sure to check out the major headlines making waves across the country on Thursday 2 April.
As South Africa enters the seventh day of its coronavirus-induced lockdown, the revision of regulations relating to the public transport sector — taxis, in particular — has halted a nationwide strike but has come with its fair share of criticism. Tobacco bans in the Western Cape have also been lifted, much to the delight of smokers but to the disdain of the healthcare system.
Today’s latest news in South Africa, Thursday 2 April
Mbalula slammed for ‘giving in’ to taxi demands
New regulations, which adopt a far more lenient approach than those first imposed on the taxi industry, have been met with mixed reactions. While the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) and the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) have both claimed victory in the fight for fuller vehicles, politicians and healthcare providers have criticised Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
On Wednesday afternoon, with the threat of a nationwide taxi strike looming, Mbalula relaxed regulations relating to the passenger capacity of minibus taxis. The transport minister proclaimed that taxis were allowed to transport 100% of passengers licensed to the associated vehicle, but only if the commuters and operators wore face masks.
Furthermore, Mbalula noted that taxis were allowed to operate at 70% capacity, otherwise.
Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba lashed out at the decision, saying:
“Does this kind of gathering not defeat the purpose of what we are trying to achieve with the 21-day lockdown?
“Am I missing something here? Maybe you can enlighten me, Fikile Mbalula?
“If one person there has COVID-19, you have put hundreds at risk of catching and spreading the virus.”
Investigations continue after raid on China Mall in Durban
Questions remain following a raid on a business premises in downtown Durban. The operation, which was carried out by the KwaZulu-Natal health department, South African Police Service (SAPS) and National Defence Force (SANDF) — said to be the largest operation of its kind in the province since the lockdown began – came in the wake of a tip-off which alleged serious concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus.
According to reports, hundreds of employees and residents in the building on West Street had been exposed to the coronavirus. The department of economic development received information claiming that the building was unsanitary and posed a health risk.
While no arrests have yet been made, police are conducting an investigation as health department workers continue to test the buildings’ occupants; some of which have displayed “flu-like” symptoms.
Mobile sampling units hit the road
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has initiated the roll-out of mobile testing units which will visit both rural and urban areas alike. Mkhize released an image of the COVID-19 testing vehicles on Wednesday evening, announcing that the sampling would soon be accessible in all municipalities.
The deployment of the mobile testing units is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to deploy 10 000 field workers and increase national testing capacity during the lockdown period.
Eskom uses low lockdown demand to fix Koeberg
A decrease in electrical demand, owing to the nation being on lockdown, has afforded Eskom the window of opportunity needed to conduct repairs on Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in the Western Cape. According to a statement issued by the power utility, which in recent months has been marred by operational failures, Koeberg Unit 2 will be removed from the grid for a month to allow for maintenance work to proceed. Eskom said:
“We are making use of the opportunity of low demand to carry out important short term maintenance of our generation infrastructure.”
Wimbledon cancelled due to COVID-19
The 2020 Championships Wimbledon have officially been called off due to public health concerns surrounding the coronavirus epidemic.
The Championships were scheduled to be held from Monday 29 June until Sunday 12 July.
The 134th edition of the Championships Wimbledon will be held between 28 June and 11 July 2021.
This is the first time the Championships have been cancelled since the end of the Second World War.
Latest weather forecast, Thursday 2 April
Take a look at weather forecasts for all nine provinces
Live traffic updates for Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban
Stay one step ahead of the traffic by viewing our live traffic updates
Free daily horoscope, celeb gossip and lucky numbers for Thursday 2 April.