SAHRC hearing: Research organisation says 18% of people in Gauteng lost jobs during Covid-19 pandemic

Published Mar 2, 2022


Video by Kamogelo Moichela/ IOL Politics

Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission into the July unrest has heard that 18% of Gauteng residents have lost their jobs since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory, an organisation which conducted a survey on the quality of life in the province, also found that black people were the most affected.

While white respondents were more protected.

The GCRO’s testimony comes after some residents from Alexandra and Soweto testified that the socio-economic challenges in their areas may have fuelled the violence.

GCRO researcher Mamokete Motjomane told the commission that the informal business sector suffered a heavy blow due to Covid-19 because the government could not allow them to operate on streets to feed their families and other family members that lost their jobs.

“What we have seen with the data that we collected during Covid-19, there is really an impact on people in the informal economy.

“What was interesting is that during that hard lockdown in March 2020, food traders were not considered essentials and we know that the informal food market is a great market where a lot of people, the poor for instance, access food from.

“Informal market is a lower cost market, they are able to provide credit if you do not have money to buy food but the government did not see them as essential service providers and I think it showed the way in which they think about the informal traders,” she said.

Graeme Gots, the director of GCRO shared with the commission why the black people were badly affected by the pandemic and also why children could not attend school.

On school matters, he stated the main difference to be financial income. He said even though children were allowed to go to school after lockdown, some could not attend because of finances as it was much higher for Africans than it was for whites.

Video by Kamogelo Moichela/ IOL Politics

However, he mentioned that some people could not work because of the nature of their jobs.

“People who work in factories, living in trading in the streets, security guards whose place of work cannot be shifted by mind,” he said.

He said Covid-19 changed how the economy runs.

Meanwhile, Jean Le Roux of the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRL) said the kind of impact social media had during the unrest.

“Social media has become a major source for information rather than traditional forms of media,” he said.

He elaborated to the commission that disinformation was shared with the pure intention of misleading the public while misinformation is false information shared without the intention of misleading.

He said that during the unrest, a lot of information was shared around social media platforms.

“A hashtag will start off harmless or a joke but by how often it is used then it completely turns into something else.

“We focused on Facebook and Twitter to see if there was any co-ordination and incitement,” he said.

“We did not see anything on open source social media saying people should go to a particular place but we do know that happened on WhatsApp,” he said.

[email protected]

Political Bureau