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Coronavirus lockdown ‘differs’ from apartheid, says SA government

Soldiers conduct a roadblock in uMlazi after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national 21-day lockdown to flatten coronavirus infection rates. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA

Soldiers conduct a roadblock in uMlazi after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national 21-day lockdown to flatten coronavirus infection rates. Picture: Zanele Zulu/ANA

Published Mar 29, 2020


Cape Town - Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency, has denied that the current nationwide lockdown is akin to apartheid’s draconian laws.

Instead, he emphasised that apartheid was about destroying lives and the lockdown had been implemented to save them.

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This follows some reports that the lockdown was tantamount to apartheid.

Mthembu said he agreed with Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who had also dismissed the reports.

“Apartheid was not about saving lives; it was about oppressing and discriminating against black people.

“Maybe those who are saying it is tantamount to apartheid, I agree with Minister Zulu that they don’t know what apartheid was like,” he said.

He added: “This mission is about saving lives... Apartheid was about divide and racial abuse.”

According to Mthembu, the lockdown, which entered day three today, was supported by all political parties, religious organisations and civil society.

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He said the government was taking every precaution to ensure the coronavirus was contained.

Mthembu noted that even the World Health Organisation supported measures taken by several countries to prevent the spread of the disease.

Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation said they had procured 41000 water tankers to provide water to people living in informal settlements and rural areas.

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Sisulu said they also spoke to distributors of water tanks to deliver an additional 400000 water tanks to aid communities during this time.

“Now that we have 400000 water tanks, it will be possible to roll out water to everybody. We are going to every area in need of water,” said Sisulu.

She highlighted that the government also wanted to upgrade informal settlements’ infrastructure.

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“We are in the process of upgrading their sanitation systems and putting up ablution blocks (rather) than a single toilet,” she said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said there were plans to catch up on the curriculum and the lost time.

She said her ministry was looking beyond the 21-day lockdown period.

Motshekga maintained that there was no date yet for the reopening of schools because officials did not know how the situation would unfold in the coming weeks.

She said on April 16, stakeholders would host a teleconference to assess the situation before making a decision.

She said there was no way they could afford to completely write off the 2020 academic year.

“As a sector, we cannot afford to give up on the year; it will rock the system off badly,” said Motshekga.

She insisted that the matric exams would be written despite the disruption caused by the virus.

Motshekga also indicated that a recovery plan was in place for the department to make up for lost time.

“We will do whatever we need,” assured Motshekga.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said despite the universities being shut, there were still up to 5000 students who were stuck at campuses.

Most of the students were not South African citizens, Nzimande said.

He added that government would do everything to ensure that the students complied with lockdown regulations.

Zulu said social grant payments had been brought forward to tomorrow, but she cautioned that only the elderly and people with disabilities would receive payment tomorrow, while the rest would be paid on Wednesday.

The SA Post Office and Sassa had made the necessary arrangements for people to receive payment, Zulu said.

Political Bureau

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