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Tag: Covid-19

Alcohol Sales Resumes in SA

The government has lifted restrictions on the sale of alcohol on weekdays and the movement of people between provinces, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying that the third wave of COVID-19 infections appears to have reached its peak.

“Based on the recommendations of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, and inputs from the President’s Coordinating Council, Cabinet this afternoon decided that the country should be moved from Adjusted Alert Level 4 and be placed on Adjusted Alert Level 3. This will take place with immediate effect.”

South Africa currently accounts for over a third of the known COVID-19 infections and 40% of deaths related to the virus on the African continent. According to figures from the Health Department, just under 10,000 tests came back positive over the past 24-hour reporting cycle.

Unfortunately, 287 more people have also died after contracting the virus, taking the national death toll to 69,775.

Ramaphosa said that there were however red flags in some provinces.

“The latest figures suggest that we have largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infection have not yet shown signs of decline.”

Under level 3, people can now travel between provinces for leisure purposes and gatherings are allowed.  Ramaphosa also announced that the night-time curfew would start an hour later at 10 PM it would still end at 4 AM. This caused some confusion after he announced the curfew would stay the same.

The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will once again be permitted from Monday to Thursday and restaurants will also be allowed to serve liquor for in-house consumption.

When it comes to students, schools have been given the greenlight to reopen on Monday and the government will also be opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to people in the 18 to 34 age group from 1 September.

Covid Scams Impacts 41% of South Africans

Research conducted by the consumer credit reporting agency TransUnion reveals increasing digital fraud activity in South Africa, linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown, and the unemployment that resulted.

Kaspersky data shows that more than two-thirds of local respondents say that either they or close members of their families and friends have suffered from criminals via social networks since the outbreak of the virus.

Approximately two in five consumers (which is 41%) reported that they are personally aware of a Covid-19-related digital fraud attempt targeting them in the last three months, with 7% having fallen victim, according to TransUnion.

The top Covid-19 related digital scam was selling fake insurance, followed closely by unemployment and third-party seller scams.

Among those who said they were affected by Covid-19-related digital fraud in the last three months, 27% said they were targeted with an insurance scam, an increase  of 11 percentage points from Q1 2021.

A survey conducted by global cybersecurity company, Kaspersky revealed that 68% of South African respondents said that either they or their loved ones have suffered from criminals via social networks since the outbreak of Covid-19.

In most cases these fraudsters pretended to be familiar with potential victims: the manipulation scheme presented a request for help from a friend (59%).

“Social media are highly integrated into our daily life and scammers just cannot miss the opportunity to reach users directly through all the popular platforms. The fraudsters may find your personal data in your social media account and use it, for example with social engineering methods.

“In this case, we shouldn’t forget about basic security rules. For example, it’s better to hide private data and double-check your interlocutor if he urgently asks to transfer money or open a suspicious link,” said Maher Yamout, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky.

People also try to stay safe from scammers through special apps and programs on their mobile devices. According to the survey, around half of the respondents use special security solutions (antivirus) to protect themselves against online scams, 45% installed Caller ID and 31% apply built-in phone functions (blacklist, etc.) against phone fraud.

With digital transformation now a top priority on corporate agendas as companies identify new ways to grow their business, cyber attackers and opportunist cybercriminals remain very active, according to  Kaspersky.

Africa is not necessarily considered a focus area for the more sophisticated types of cybercriminal activity such as targeted attacks or advanced persistent threats (APTs),  but it is certainly not immune to these or other types of cyber risks, Kaspersky warned consumers.

When looking at the general cyber threat landscape as it impacts consumers and businesses, Kaspersky research shows that globally in 2020, approximately 10% of computers experienced at least one malware attack. In South Africa, the figure is only slightly under that average.

“While the bulk of attacks are still speculative and randomly targeting individuals and businesses, there is a shift happening with the increase of APTs and more strategically targeted based attacks. These use continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period, with potentially destructive consequences,” it said.

Attackers are focusing their attacks on specific companies and individuals where they can get the maximum benefit. The new approach of ransomware is to expose data, negatively impacting the reputation of a company. To this effect, financial crime has become more sophisticated and much more organised.

The financial services sector remains a top targeted industry in Africa when it comes to cybercriminal activity and cyber threats – hardly surprising when one considers the digital-first approach this sector continues to take, driven by the needs and expectations of its customers.

“It is relatively easy for a hacker to target an individual and capture passcodes, one-time passwords, and install malware on their computers to get financial information. Increasingly, this is expanding to financial institutions given the sheer number of new entrants in the market emerging,” Kaspersky said.

For computer hackers, online or cyber fraud offers direct monetisation of an attack and gives them access to money as quickly as possible.

Financial-based malware and cyberattacks are also becoming more targeted, complicated, and difficult to prevent, and with digital transformation progressing at a rapid rate within such a sector, there is no shortage of attack surfaces for cybercriminals to exploit.

Kaspersky reminds consumers about the basic security rules:

  • Do not click on suspicious links in emails and messages in chats.
  • If you have found out about a particular promotion and want to participate, check the official website or official social media accounts to reassure that this company or brand is holding it.
  • Install a reliable security solution with up-to-date databases of phishing sites, scams and spam.
  • Never share confidential information with third parties, including a one-time code from an SMS or push notification.
  • Install a solution that detects phone numbers of spammers and fraudsters.
  • If an offer on the Internet sounds too tempting to be true, then most likely it is fake.

SA needs a digital vaccine certificate – or travellers could spend 8 hours in airports

South Africa is being urged to digitise its Covid-19 vaccine and testing certificates in a standardised way which will make it easier for travellers to pass border security checks.

After a painfully slow start, South Africa’s vaccination rollout is now gathering momentum, with 10% of the population having received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. More than half of all these doses have been administered in the past month alone.

More than a quarter of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, with countries like the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Canada, and the United States (US) already past the 50% mark.

Countries with high vaccination rates – approaching herd immunity – are slowly starting to ease travel restrictions which have been in place for most of the year. Travellers from South Africa, due to the discovery of the Beta variant back in December, have remained some of the most restricted in the world.

This cautious resumption of international travel is underwritten by a set of new rules. Fully vaccinated South African travellers – those who have completed their full course of region-approved doses – have been given the green light to visit some countries in Europe without having to spend weeks in quarantine.

This trend is expected to continue, at least in the short to medium term, as more countries open up.

“The hype is all going to be around making sure you’ve had your vaccines as well as proof of which vaccine has been administered,” Andrew Stark, Flight Centre Travel Group’s managing director for operations in Africa and the Middle East told Business Insider South Africa.

“It’s probably a two-year problem because I think that within two-years, when the world has built up a global immunity, it will fall by the wayside quite quickly. [But] certificates, around the world, no matter where you are, are highly corruptible and it will create a bit of a headache initially.”

Vaccine passports to be the norm for international travel (for now)

The European Union (EU) recently implemented a Digital Green Certificate – equipped with a digital signature in the form of a scannable QR code – which is used to prove a traveller’s vaccination status, allowing for free movement between member states.

The UK has developed its own NHS Covid Pass, India has its QR-verifiable CoWin platform, US states are introducing digital health records stored on mobile phones, and China launched its International Travel Health Certificate back in March.

While a lack of standardisation among the various passes for the purpose of international travel remains a concern, the common thread throughout is the digitisation of Covid-19 vaccine and test certificates.

“A digital solution is critical, particularly as volumes of passenger movements increase,” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), told Business Insider SA during a recent media briefing.

“We did some research at IATA which predicted that if we had to continue using manual paper processes you would get very significant waiting times at airports. The total airport experience, from check in to departure and then the arrival part, we estimated that would go from about 1.5 hours in a normal peak environment to about 8 hours if the volume of passengers recovered to the levels we had seen in 2019.”

These delays relate to the manual vetting and authentication processes undertaken by airlines, airport staff, and border security in the country of departure and arrival. Authenticating a physical vaccine card, which is easier to forge than a government-backed digital vaccination code, is likely to create bottlenecks at international processing points.

Although IATA – like the World Health Orginisation (WHO) – believes that vaccinations should not be a mandatory requirement for international travel, the association which represents roughly 80% of the world’s airlines has introduced its own digital Travel Pass.

“IATA’s Travel Pass digitises paper-based test and vaccine certificates which are essential for the scalable restart of commercial air travel,” Alex Stancu, head of account management in South and East Africa at IATA, told Business Insider South Africa.

“With this in mind, IATA is encouraging governments to accept digital Covid-19 test and vaccination certificates and, by extension, the IATA Travel Pass’s ‘OK to Travel’ status indicator as verification for health entry requirements. South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, has publicly stated the Government’s interest in the IATA Travel Pass. Discussions are underway with the relevant authorities and laboratories with a view to the app being accepted for use in the country.”

South Africa urged to introduce digital solutions

Stancu explained that for South Africa to be part of global travel’s restart – and benefit from an internationally recognised health pass initiative – government would need to introduce four digital solutions:

  • Issuing citizens with a digital Covid-19 test/vaccination certificate so they have a verifiable document on their mobile device.
  • These certificates must contain a QR code which can be read by the industry.
  • Ensure border or other agencies accept digital passenger test/vaccination certificates on a passenger’s mobile device including and not just on paper.
  • Enable passengers to share their Covid test/vaccination details in advance of travel.

“It would be ideal in a global context if we had a common standard that could be applied [but] that is highly unlikely. So, we have a digital solution but different standards of the digital solution,” said Walsh. IATA’s Travel Pass is currently being trialled by at least 50 international airlines.

“We’re working directly with laboratories which are certified for testing, so you can have trust in the report that you’re getting and that’s what it’s really all about. Governments are trying to understand how they can trust the source of the data… is a piece of paper that can be replicated a trustworthy source of data? So, we’re looking to work with as many governments as possible to help provide a digital solution.”

South Africa’s department of health has hinted at a digital Covid-19 vaccine certificate. Access to a digital record was first mentioned during the launch of the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) back in late-January. The EVDS is the digital backbone of South Africa’s rollout, tracking doses, sites, dates, and ID numbers of those registered and vaccinated.

To date, South Africa’s government has provided no further significant updates to the proposed digital certificate.

Departments shifting digital responsibility

The national department of health’s spokesperson, Popo Maja, told Business Insider SA that the digitisation process had been delegated to the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco).

“This decision was taken in Technical Task Team of the DGs. And it was decided that Dirco will lead. It is about policy on Vaccine Passports,” Maja explained.

But Dirco says it hasn’t been tasked with developing a state-endorsed digital solution or determining policies around vaccine passports.

“Dirco has nothing to do with it… the department of home affairs [which Business Insider SA also approached for comment], at the very least, should have an opinion on this because this would be a travel document and they are the authority on travel documents [and the department of] health is in charge of the vaccination programme,” Dirco Spokesperson Clayson Monyela told Business Insider SA.

The EVDS’ project manager, Milani Wolmarans, confirmed to Business Insider SA that digital certificates “will be made available and the technology for this is being developed” but provided no further timeliness or details.

And while private sector players are developing their own digital, mobile-based records – with Discovery’s Covid-19 Vaccination Navigator one of the tools assisting clients – the move towards a cohesive digital system needs to be led by government.

“Those that are on medical aid [less than 30% of South Africa’s population] will have a registration of what vaccines have been administered… so you’ll have some proof,” noted Stark. Whether this proof will be accepted by all international authorities is still to be seen.

Pick n Pay Takes on Ramaphosa

Pieter Boone, Pick n Pay’s group chief executive, has called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the country’s restrictions on the sale of alcohol. According to Boone the easing of restrictions will be especially beneficial to those businesses that have been severely impacted by recent looting and unrest in parts of the country.

“Speaking to franchisees and independent traders in the affected areas, I firmly believe that it is time now for the president to announce a lifting of the ban on liquor sales.

“We have hopefully passed the peak of the Covid-19 third wave.  In normal times, many independent shopkeepers depend on responsible liquor sales to sustain their businesses, and will not survive another prolonged ban. ”

Boone said that the looting and resulting damage have dealt these businesses a further heavy blow – while also releasing a large amount of looted liquor into the illicit market.

“Lifting the ban will be widely welcomed across the country as a positive and responsible step forward in our recovery from the events of last week.”

“We are working very hard in anticipation of this step. By the end of next week, we will have repaired and be ready to reopen 28 of our 76 severely damaged liquor stores in KZN and Gauteng.”

The alcohol industry has faced various forms of restrictions on trade since South Africa introduced its first Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020, with the government arguing that alcohol consumption leads to increased strain on the country’s hospitals due to liquor-related injuries.

According to estimates, the latest four-week ban has placed 9,206 jobs in the alcohol industry at risk, with a potential loss of R10.2 billion in taxes and excise duties. This follows three previous bans which already resulted in over 7,400 jobs lost in the beer industry alone, R14.2 billion in lost beer sales revenue, and a loss of more than R7.8 billion in tax and excise duties.

Damage

Boone argued that the Pick n Pay Group updated stakeholders earlier this week on the damage to Pick n Pay and Boxer stores as a result of the social unrest and looting. In total, 136 food, grocery, clothing, and building stores were looted and/or burned, along with 76 PnP liquor stores, across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Two Pick n Pay distribution centres in KZN were also severely damaged during the national unrest.

“The scale and the nature of the destruction is heart breaking.  But I have been inspired by the progress made by our Pick n Pay and Boxer teams in the noble task of cleaning up, rebuilding, and restocking our stores – getting them ready to welcome customers again.

“The progress since I was here last week is massive.  Every day, our teams are accelerating their progress and shortening their timescales. ”

“Last week I said that South Africa was bloodied but unbowed. This week, everywhere I have been, I have seen the strength and determination of people to rise from the crisis and build a better tomorrow,” Boone said.

Collapse

The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) along with the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) and wine group Vinpro have also written to Trade, Industry and Competition minister Ebrahim Patel requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the devastating impact of the ban, and alternative options for going forward.

The groups said that the restrictions need to be relaxed to avoid a possible industry-wide collapse – which threatens the livelihood of a million people supported by the sector.

“These businesses as well as thousands of others will simply not survive a continued alcohol ban,” said BASA. “At the same time, we know many South Africans are still obtaining alcohol from the illicit industry, which is already worth R20.5 billion.”

The mass looting of liquor outlets and distributors last week in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng boosted the illegal sale of alcohol even further, making the current ban completely nonsensical, the association said.

“As the cabinet member directly responsible for trade and industry in the country, it is critical that minister Patel takes up the industry’s concerns to save a sector that is vital to our economy, to ensure its ability to continue supporting over one million livelihoods during these difficult times.

The association said that it has not received a response from Patel yet.

“The beer industry publicly calls on minister Patel to schedule this meeting as a matter of urgency and to intervene to save a sector on the brink of collapse.”

Vaccines Don’t Work Immediately says Doctor

The Covid-19 virus has been playing mind tricks on many people since the pandemic erupted in South Africa early in 2020.  At the first sign of a scratchy throat or an unfamiliar headache, you are convinced you contracted the coronavirus. A quick visit to the doctor and a Covid-19 test later you realise you simply had sinusitis.

Complacency however cannot become the norm as the virus remains a threat. Especially the more severe strains that have been spreading throughout the world. It is also important for people to understand that a vaccine does not provide immediate protection against the virus.

There is also a very good chance that you have been infected with the coronavirus before receiving the vaccine but that you were unaware, or have not experienced any symptoms yet.

Dr. Susan Louw, a hematopathologist at SA’s National Health Laboratory Service, furthermore explains that there’s a window period after receiving the vaccine in which your body has to mount an immune response to Covid-19 to protect you from it.

“It takes about two to three weeks for your body to get the army of antibodies ready to fight Covid-19,” Dr Louw explained.

During this time, you are not going to have more protection against the coronavirus than someone who has not been vaccinated.

It is therefore extremely important to remain vigilant at all times and if you think you may have Covid-19, to seek medical advice immediately and take care not to infect others.

The good news is that once the vaccine has done its job, Louw reassured that there is “definite evidence” that it “protects most people against becoming severely ill from Covid-19”.

Government Pushing For Schools to Reopen

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the Department of Basic Education is proceeding with plans to reopen schools.  Ntshavheni said that the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga will brief the nation on the re-opening of the education sector on Sunday (25 July).

South Africa has moved to an adjusted level 4 lockdown at the end of June in response to the third wave of Covid-19 infections. Initially announced to be for two weeks, the lockdown was extended on 11 July for an additional 14 days, with a review now expected on Sunday.

The move to level 4 lockdown forced the closure of all schools, with school holidays brought forward and lost teaching time expected to be made up during the typical winter holiday period of July.  The Department of Basic Education previously gazetted Monday the 26th of July as the official reopening date for schools, but this could still change if president Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet decide to extend the level 4 lockdown. The situation is being reviewed weekly according to the Department of Basic Education said.

While all government school students are expected to return in some capacity from Monday, a timetable change will also see primary school learners (Grades R – 7) return to school from 2 August for the first time in more than a year.

Since South Africa first introduced Covid-19 lockdown restrictions at the end of March 2020, most students have been learning in a ‘shift system’ – with a large amount of coursework still expected to be done at home to encourage social distancing.

In a briefing on Wednesday evening, Ntshavheni confirmed that 143 schools had been vandalised and looted during the recent unrest. 139 of these schools are in KwaZulu-Natal and four are in Gauteng.

“Equipment and food meant for the school nutrition programme was stolen, which means that these schools are unable to provide the school nutrition programme to the vulnerable learners,” she said.

The Ticketpro Dome Closes Its Doors Permanently

The Ticketpro Dome opposite the Northgate shopping center in Gauteng will be closing down, RX Venue Management has announced yesterday.  RX, which has managed the venue for the past 20 years, said that venue has been sold by its owners – the Sasol Pension Fund – to a third party that does not operate in the events space.

“This is another devasting blow for the exhibitions, events, and entertainment industry due to Covid-19. The ban on public gatherings has meant that during 2020 – and now 2021 – the Ticketpro Dome has been unable to operate,” it said.

The Dome, which opened in 1998 as the MTN Sundome, served as a key event hall for many international artists and exhibitions, as well as trade shows and fairs. It has also hosted several sporting tournaments such as the NBA Africa Games, and the WWE International.

In an effort to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions on gatherings, the Dome launched a ‘hybrid event’ model in 2020 that facilitated online interactions. However, this incurred two costs – for both the physical and online aspects of events – with the events themselves lacking the full in-person experience that was the major drawcard, to begin with.

Carol Weaving, the Managing Director of RX Africa said the sale is “extremely disappointing and heartbreaking for our industry”.

“The Ticketpro Dome has been home to many international concerts and events in South Africa, and this will undoubtedly leave a huge void. Unfortunately, as we are only the managing company, we were unable to change the outcome of Sasol Pension Fund selling the venue due to force majeure.”

The official handover of the venue will be on the 7th of September 2021. RX warned that the fate of the Ticketpro Dome is an alarm bell for the entire events industry, and called on the government to address the dire situation for businesses in this sector.

“The South African Events Council (SAEC) has been lobbying the government, since its inception in 2020, to let the live events industry operate within Covid-19 safety regulations. If shopping centres can operate so too should event and exhibition venues. SAEC wants the government to allow venues to operate at 50% capacity so that the industry can start rebuilding,” it said.

“The Ticketpro Dome is the latest causality of not being able to operate and the consequences of its closure will have a ripple effect on the South African economy. It is too late for the Ticketpro Dome, but may its final curtain call be a sober reminder that there needs to be drastic rethinking on how the South Africa government views our industry.”

All Additional Lockdown Restrictions

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has extended South Africa’s level 4 lockdown for another 14 days, with restrictions remaining in place until the 25th of July.

In his address to the nation on Sunday (11 July), Ramaphosa said that the last two weeks of restrictions were necessary to curb the third wave of infections in South Africa which has been caused by the fast-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19.

At present, the country has over 200,000 active Covid-19 cases. In the last two weeks alone, over 4,200 South Africans have also lost their lives to the Covid-19 virus.

“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure. By next week, daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to reach the levels observed during the peak of the first two waves. Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave,” the president said.

While Gauteng is still the epicenter of coronavirus infections, Ramaposa said that cases are surging in other provinces with the healthcare sector increasingly under severe strain. Infections are rapidly increasing in the Western Cape province, Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga, he said.

As a result, the Cabinet, after consultation with the provinces and invested parties, has decided to maintain the country at adjusted alert level 4 for an additional two weeks.

The Following Restrictions Will Remain in Place:

  • The evening curfew remains in place from 21h00 – 04h00, and only those with permission to do so may leave their homes during this time;
  • All social, religious, and political gatherings remain prohibited;
  • Schools will remain closed until 26 July;
  • The sale of alcohol remains prohibited.

The Following Restrictions Have Been Eased

  • Restaurants and eateries will be able to operate as normal while observing strict protocols – Such establishments may not accommodate more than 50 people at a time or, for smaller venues, more than 50% of their normal capacity;
  • Certain other venues such as gyms and fitness centers may also reopen;
  • Agricultural activities such as livestock auctions will be permitted.

The president also said that Cabinet has decided that all business licenses and permits that expired between March 2020 and June 2021 will remain valid until 31 December 2022. South Africa reported 16,302 new cases on Sunday, considerably lower than Friday and Saturday, taking the total number of active reported cases to 208,709.

Up to 53,653 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours which represents a 30.4% positivity rate.  A further 151 Covid-19 related deaths have been reported, taking total fatalities to 64,289 to date.

Financial relief for Covid

The Unemployment Insurance Fund, or UIF, has decided to extend the Covid-19 TERS scheme to businesses that have been impacted by the adjusted level 4 lockdown. The full details of the businesses and sectors that could qualify and benefit from this will be published in a gazette shortly, Ramaphosa said.

 

covid+lockdown

Lockdown Future Will Be Decided on Sunday

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is set to meet on Sunday (11 July 2021), to assess developments in the Covid-19 pandemic in the country and the national response to this challenge.

“The council’s deliberations come towards the end of a two-week period during which the country has implemented alert level 4 of the coronavirus national state of disaster,” the presidency said in a statement on Friday. The council meeting will be followed by meetings of the President’s Coordinating Council and Cabinet.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa moved South Africa to an adjusted alert level 4 lockdown on the 27th of June, introducing strict restrictions on gatherings, the sale of alcohol, and a new evening curfew.

Ramaphosa said that these restrictions would be reviewed in two weeks’ time to establish their effectiveness, with an update due on the 11th of July.  South Africans are waiting with bated breath to hear what the future will bring.  The current level 4 lockdown dealt a heavy blow to the restaurant and alcohol industries.  Several business owners have taken to social media to vent their frustrations and fears.

South Africa reported 22,910 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday (8 July), which brings the total number of reported cases to 2,135,246.

Deaths have reached an alarming 63,499, while recoveries have climbed to 1,862,900, leaving the country with a balance of 208,847 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 4,017,442.

While Gauteng continues to be the epicenter of the third wave of Covid-19 infections, Kubayi-Ngubane said that it appears that the country is now reaching its peak in cases, although some experts disagree with this assessment.

However, she said that there was now concern that the third wave would start to increase in other provinces, including the Western Cape, Limpopo, and KwaZulu-Natal.

Joburg Mayor Dies of Covid

Both government and political leaders have been mourning the death of Johannesburg Mayor Geoffrey Makhubo as messages of condolences pour in.  Makhubo’s death was confirmed on Friday by acting executive mayor Eunice Mgcina. She shared condolences with his friends and family, saying that she’d hoped that the executive mayor would beat the virus and return to work to lead the city as it continued to battle the pandemic that has devastated lives and livelihoods.

Makhubo passed away this morning, almost a week after being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 complications.  He tested positive late in June and immediately used the opportunity to warn residents.

“Joburg is officially in a third wave and residents are urged to take the necessary non-medical precautions. Wear masks, maintain social distance and limit movement in compliance with the regulations.”

Mayor Makhubo’s family has asked for their privacy to be respected while mourning his death.  They have also discouraged mourners and supporters from gathering outside his house.

President of ActionSA former Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba said: “I am shocked to hear of the passing of Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo. In these difficult times, we are reminded of how fragile life can be. Our shared humility will always come before our politics. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues in the ANC.”

The MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile, said that Makhubo’s death was a huge blow for local government.

“Mayor Makhubo died at a time where the City of Johannesburg was accelerating service delivery in communities, especially in poor and working-class communities. We are saddened by Mayor Makhubo’s death. This is a low blow not only for Johannesburg but provincially.”

The City of Joburg spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase said that the news about Makhubo’s death was devastating.

“The executive mayor acting and the Speaker of Council will, in due course, announce any further details on the passing of the executive mayor.”

Geoffrey Makhubo was appointed as mayor of Johannesburg in December 2019. Prior to the appointment, he has held various positions in the city council, having served as the leader of the opposition in council from August 2016 and as the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance in the City of Johannesburg from 2011 to 2016.

He has also held the positions of leader of executive business in council and that of the chairperson of the governance cluster.

Makhubo obtained a B.Com degree from Witwatersrand University and a Management Advancement Programme (MAP) with the Wits Business School. He also held a Leadership in Local Government certificate from the University of Cape Town.

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