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BREAKING: Reduced jail time being contemplated by Government

 

According to BusinessTech, the Government is carefully examining the criminal justice system in relation to incarceration for low-risk crimes so that it does not become the only option for such crimes.

“We will be reviewing some of our policies and we are looking forward to thoughtful contributions, which will emanate from public debates through the legislative process so that together, we can address overcrowding in correctional centres,” the Minister said.

He said the rate of imprisonment for awaiting trial offenders is increasing at a rate which requires South Africa to urgently interrogate the linkages in the criminal justice system.

An analysis of the inmate population to date reveals that the bed space in correctional services currently sits at 118,572, whereas there is a total of 149,330 inmates, with 96,272 sentenced inmates and 53 058 remand detainees.

This means that 55.1% of the inmate population have yet to have their day in court.

“Some are in our centres for economic crimes such as shoplifting, stealing and robbery. There are also those who have committed heinous crimes,” Lamola said.

Efforts to address overcrowding

In the next five years, South Africa will create an additional 3,000 bed space through upgrades and construction of new facilities.

“However, as I have said, experience has taught us that it is not possible for our infrastructure projects to outpace the rate of conviction due to our high crime rate in the country.”

“This means the level of crime must significantly be reduced for us to avoid overcrowding,” the Minister said.

Rehabilitation programmes

The Minister has called on communities not to discriminate against released inmates, who have acquired skills to make an honest living.

In the last financial year, production workshops in Correctional Services in which inmates operate produced the following:

  • 7 million loaves of bread
  • 3 million litres of milk
  • 415,000 kg of fruits
  • 471,000 kg of red meat
  • 7 million kg of pork and
  • 539,000 kg of poultry
  • 4 million dozens of eggs

Covid-19

To date, Correctional Services centres have recorded 1,485 recoveries and it is attending to 497 Covid-19 active cases.

“Our sincerest condolences go to the families of 16 citizens in our centres, who have since passed on as result of COVID-19,” the minister said.

 

Source: BusinessTech

Photo Credit: Unsplash

 

COVID-19: Biggest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases.

SA’s Covid-19 cases continued to climb at a rapid rate, with 5,688 cases reported in the past 24 hours.

This is not only the biggest single-day increase in confirmed cases, but also the first time that more than 5,000 cases have been recorded in a single day.

The increase means that, by Wednesday night, there were 111,796 confirmed cases of the respiratory infections caused by the coronavirus in SA.

111 deaths in a single day as SA hits another grim Covid-19 milestone

SA now has 2,102 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 106,108 cases

The health ministry on Wednesday also announced an increase of 103 Covid-19 related deaths, taking the national total to 2,205.

This is the second day in a row that there have been more than 100 deaths in a 24-hour period.

Wednesday’s infection figures means that the past five days have accounted for four of SA’s biggest single-day increases in cases:

  • June 24 – 5,688 cases
  • June 23 – 4,518 cases
  • June 21 – 4,621 cases
  • June 20 – 4,966 cases

It took 66 days for SA to register its first 10,000 cases (March 5 to May 10), but just two days to reach its most recent 10,000 cases.

While the Western Cape remains the country’s Covid-19 epicentre, it no longer accounts for more than half of the country’s total cases – the first time this has been the case for a number of weeks.

Of the total 111,796 total cases, just over 49.3% (or 55,162 cases) were in the Western Cape.

Gauteng accounts for 26,156 cases (about 23.3%) and the Eastern Cape 19,214 cases (about 17.2%).

In total there were 56,874 recoveries.

The statistics were based on a total of 1,416,894 tests, of which 34,122 were done in the past 24-hour cycle.

Source: TimesLive.

CRIME NEWS: Five arrested for hosting a party in Joburg

According to IOL, Joburg metro police have arrested five people who were hosting a party and drinking in public in Malvern on Tuesday night.

Senior Superintendent Wayne Minaar, a spokesperson for the Joburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), said the group had been singing, dancing and braaing along the road when police received a complaint at about 7pm.

He said some managed to escape, but the police arrested five people and have charged them with contravening the National Disaster Management Act.

Under current lockdown regulations, members of the public are allowed to purchase and transport alcohol, but are only allowed to consume it at home.

Gatherings in groups are also prohibited.

“Officers managed to arrest only five men for having a party in the road at 27 Street and Hospital Road, Malvern. Officers received the complaint of a party on the road at approximately 7.15pm.

“There were a lot more who were singing and braaing in the road, but the others managed to escape when officers arrived,” said Minnaar.

The suspects were detained at the Cleveland Police Station.

The Joburg region has the highest prevalence of active Covid-19 cases in the country, with over 8 000 people currently living with the virus.

Malvern, which is in Region F of the city’s sub-districts, has about 1995 active cases, the most of any sub-region in the Gauteng province.

Source: IOL

department-of-education

Dates for phased reopening of schools

The Department of Basic Education has gazetted regulations surrounding schools operating during Covid-19, including dates for the phased return of pupils, as well as guidelines for parents who will not be sending their children back.

Dates for phased reopening

According to new regulations, released on Tuesday:

Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 will be able to return to school from 6 July.

  • Schools catering for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities (SID) will also be able to welcome Grades 1, 2, 3 and final-year pupils from this date.
  • Schools with pupils with severe and profound intellectual disabilities (LSPID) will allow years 1-3 to return.
  • Autistic pupils below the age of 13, as well as final-year students who are 18 and above will also return on 6 July.

On 3 August 2020, Grades 4, 5, 8 and 9 will be able to return.

  • As well as first-year pupils in schools of skill, Grade 4s and 5s in SIDs and pupils above the age of 13 in schools catering for autistic learners. 

Hostels

Hostels are also allowed to open if they comply with minimum health, safety and social distancing requirements, and the department is notified.

The department will also be able to conduct an inspection once the hostel opens to verify this compliance.

Aftercare Facilities

Aftercare facilities are also allowed to reopen if they are compliant, however, school events like sport and cultural activities remain suspended.

Deviation from phased return

  • The regulations allow for schools to deviate from this phased return with regard to specific grades or dates if the school is compliant with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measurements and, in the case of a public school, has all Covid-19 essentials in place, and the principal has notified the department.
  • Should the school not be compliant with the Covid-19 measures, the deviation from the phased return can be revoked and the school closed until it becomes compliant.

School attendance

  • Parents of pupils who will not return to school after the phased return will need to apply to the head of the Department of Basic Education, which can then exempt a child entirely, partially or conditionally from attending school if it is in their best interest.
  • According to the regulations, this is dependent on whether the parent has made an effort to ensure the child continues their schooling from home through learning materials supplied by the school
  • The parent will also have to comply with legal requirements concerning home education.

The link to the Gazette:

https://www.gov.za/sites/default/files/gcis_document/202006/43465gen343.pdf

Source: News24

Restaurants can open, but what are the rules?

Restaurant owners and industry bodies have to wait on government to publish the physical distancing guidelines.

Liam Tomlin, proprietor of the Chefs Warehouse chain of restaurants said, the president’s announcement did little in the way of providing clarity on a path to reopening.

“The announcement was very vague and really doesn’t make it any easier for us in planning or making any decisions on the reopening of our businesses or if it will make financial sense to reopen them until we have solid guidelines as to how we can operate,” Tomlin said.

Tomlin asked some important questions,

  • Can we serve alcohol as normal without restrictions on the hours of consumption as we experienced pre-lockdown?
  • How many guests can we have in our space?
  • How many staff can be on site?

Founder of the Beerhouse group and the Hospitality Alliance, Randolph Jorberg, said that with the reopening of food outlets, the sale of alcohol specifically was a make-or-break factor for many.

Comments on social media indicated there are a huge number of customers confirming that they will rather eat at home, with a bottle of liquor bought from a bottle store, if they are not allowed to consume liquor in restaurants.

They now have to wait for the regulations to be published by the government.

Meanwhile, major leisure companies are already implementing their own measures.

The Sun International Group, which operates GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World and Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, published measures that both its restaurant tenants and patrons must adhere to.

“Our new health and safety protocols adhere to travel and tourism industry standard protocols for Covid-19 that were issued by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, and approved by governments health experts as well as an independent epidemiologist,” said Graham Woods, the group’s chief operating officer for hospitality.

These measures include,

  • People maintaining 1.5m distance from each other
  • Menus to be sanitised or disposed upon single use
  • Condiments to be served with meals in a single use package
  • Cutlery and napkins to be provided in a paper sleeve

Tomlin said, any guidelines for restaurants would have to be applied on a case-by-case basis with the responsibilty of social distancing also laying with patrons.

Source: IOL

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Expected drop in food prices

According to TimesLive, the Competition Commission says it expects food prices to fall and has vowed to monitor retailers to make sure savings are passed on to consumers.

The commission’s acting spokesperson, Siyabulela Makunga, said the commission had been vigilant in responding to consumer complaints of price increases for essential food products.

Makunga said market factors, including the rand’s 25% depreciation in March, initially pushed food prices up during the lockdown, but these were now being reversed.

The commission had asked suppliers of imported staples such as rice and wheat to absorb cost increases during lockdown level 5, Makunga revealed to TimesLive.

Since the rand had now recovered about 10% of its value, imports would become cheaper, though lower prices would be delayed as current stock is priced at the higher levels.

Makunga said there was a short-lived increase in maize prices in April due to stocks running low before the new harvest arrived in May. But the price has come down in the last month due to the bumper crop being harvested.

This should start to be passed through to consumers this month.”

The same applied to fresh produce as prices shot up in the initial period of lockdown due to panic buying.

However, since the end of April, prices across fresh produce markets, aside from non-seasonal fruit, have been declining, Makunga said.

“Store prices should therefore decline, otherwise enforcement will occur.”

The commission’s CEO, Tembinkosi Bonakele, warned MPs recently that if the rand continued to decline, the country may experience more food price increases.

“Once the price of bread starts rising everybody is going to be quite upset and coming to the authorities,” he said at the time.

Bonakele said some of the suppliers of flour and bread had delayed putting up those prices.

According to TimesLive, Stats SA reported last month that the prices of essential products decreased by 0.5% during the Covid-19 level 5 lockdown in April. It said the index increased in the first week of April but then dropped in each of the three successive weeks.

All food categories ended that month in deflationary territory except for milk, eggs and cheese, oils and fats and other foods, it said in a statement.

Source: TimesLive

Photo Credit: Unsplash

From The Desk of the President – Monday, 22 June 2020

Dear Fellow South African,

More than 100 days after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa and after two months of a nation-wide lockdown, our economy is in the throes of the anticipated fallout from this global crisis. The predictions of businesses shutting down and jobs being lost are materialising.

Last week a number of companies announced plans to retrench staff. From aviation to construction, from entertainment and leisure to hospitality, companies have indicated their intention to retrench staff because of heavy losses incurred over the past three months. In other cases, businesses are closing permanently. Small businesses whose turnover has been wiped out will be even harder hit.

As a country, we have all been keenly aware of the consequences of shutting down economic activity during the lockdown that was absolutely critical to save the lives of our people.

South Africa is not alone. In Italy, the UK, the US, Germany, India, China and nearly every country that had imposed some form of lockdown, jobs have been lost or hours of workers reduced. It is being spoken of as a ‘job loss tsunami’.

In April the International Labour Organisation forecast there would be around 305 million job losses worldwide. The situation of workers in the informal economy is even worse, with an estimated 1.6 billion workers in danger of losing their livelihoods.

For a country such as ours, which was already facing an unemployment crisis and weak economic growth, difficult decisions and difficult days lie ahead. We would urge that the difficult decisions to be taken are taken with care and with due regard to balancing the sustainability of companies and the livelihoods of workers. It is important that whatever is done is underpinned by ensuring a just transition to all concerned.

The measures we put in place to protect local businesses during the lockdown in the form of loans, tax relief, debt restructuring, extended credit lines and retail rental exemptions are continuing to provide vital support. Temporary social assistance to poor households is gathering pace and providing vital relief. However, these measures can only go so far.

This week the Minister of Finance will table a revised national budget in Parliament. Revenue has plummeted and difficult decisions will be made in the coming weeks and months as we seek to reprioritise our programmes, manage public spending and scale back on projects where necessary.

The economic hardship that has been forced on a number of companies in the private sector will be forced on a number of entities in the public sector as well. The government, business, labour and civil society will have to deepen their collaboration as never before in driving the national recovery effort.

As more economic activity resumes, struggling businesses will be ‘playing catch-up’ to recoup lost productivity and revenue for some time to come. As much as we seek to protect current jobs, we also need to create new ones, and attract new, greater levels of investment. It is imperative that we open avenues for self-employment and entrepreneurship, especially for young people.

In the past two years the business community has made commitments to invest in various businesses in our country. It is our hope that our business community and international investors will honour the investment commitments made in a number of forums such as the South Africa Investment Conference.

Coronavirus has resulted in companies around the world re-evaluating their investment and expansion plans, and we must anticipate that some of these commitments may be scaled back and even cancelled. South Africa still has great investment opportunities and assets to invest in.

We remain optimistic that as we gradually return to normalcy, and as we forge ahead with the economic reform measures embarked upon earlier this year, that the growing investment levels we were seeing before coronavirus hit will slowly but surely return.

The announcement last week by Amazon that it is on a drive to hire up to 3,000 South Africans for a variety of positions is a welcome signal, as is the announcement that a local energy storage company Metair has secured a number of contracts from the Ford Motor Company, and that the pan-African cloud and data solutions entity Africa Data Centres has acquired a hi-tech data centre in Johannesburg.

Tomorrow the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa will take place. A number of catalytic infrastructure projects in water, transportation, energy, digital infrastructure, human settlements and agriculture will be showcased. Project sponsorship has been sought from the private sector, multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, asset managers and commercial banks.

Through the delivery of sustainable and fit-for-purpose infrastructure we are able to meet our developmental aspirations and revive economic activity, while also creating jobs at scale at a time when they are needed most.

This infrastructure investment forms an integral part of our recovery effort. This will be bolstered by the reduction of interest rates by the South African Reserve Bank, support extended to businesses during the pandemic and regulatory relief for the financial sector, among others.

The job creation efforts we began in early 2020, such as the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, and the existing ones such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and Community Works Programme, will be scaled up. The job-creation initiatives and programmes the private sector began before coronavirus must resume, and new ones should be designed and implemented.

There are tough times ahead. There are no quick-fixes and we have to be realistic about our prospects, especially about the time it will take for our economy to recover. Even the advanced economies will contract substantially because of COVID-19 and it will take a long time for economic output to return to pre-pandemic levels.

At the same time we remain optimistic.

We will keep trying, because we understand that despite the hardship it has caused, the lockdown was necessary and has saved lives. No price can be put on human life.

Let us put shoulder to the wheel and turn this adversity into opportunity. Let us reimagine and repurpose our economy and put it firmly on a solid and sustainable path.

With best wishes,

Marmite SA says there’s no ‘Marmageddon’ yet amid shortage of brewer’s yeast due to Covid-19

South African Marmite lovers were left worried this week after the United Kingdom experienced a shortage of the salty, vegetarian sandwich spread. Many were left wondering if South Africa would suffer a similar #Marmageddon, according to Food24.

It has been a domino cascade of unfortunate events for Marmite in the UK. Pubs and restaurants were closed in late March across Britain in a measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus across that country. The pandemic forced the closure of almost all public spaces, and with that, the consumption of beer suddenly dropped.

Breweries in the UK, as here in South Africa, have been forced to halt all production of beers, ales and lagers after demand fell drastically. With the minimal production of beer, there came an unforeseen consequence – the end to brewer’s yeast, an essential ingredient in Marmite.

Brewer’s yeast is a by-product of beer brewing, but it is an important nutritional supplement used widely to improve foods and beverages. High in B-vitamins and folic acid, brewer’s yeast (sometimes called nutritional yeast) is particularly beneficial to those following a vegetarian lifestyle.

Food24 reached out to South Africa’s Marmite producer, Pioneer Foods for comment on what this means for South African Marmite fans. Mandy Murphy,  Managing Executive, Condiments, Spreads, Pioneer Foods told them:

The last few months have been tough at our Marmite factory because we had been unable to procure any supply of yeast, a key ingredient, during the lockdown period. This is because two of our key suppliers of yeast in South Africa, AB-Inbev and Heineken have not been permitted to operate. As yeast is a live product, we are unable to stockpile it and hence the production unit had to stop functioning.”

Mandy has some comforting words for fans: “However, the good news is that from the end of the month, the Breweries have promised to deliver yeast to us once again – so that the Marmite machines will once again be operational.

The even better news is that there is plenty of Marmite available on retail shelves across the country, particularly of our 125g bottles – and after all, dynamite comes in small packages!”

Source: Food24 / Katy Rose

PHARMA CEO DONATES R1,2-M TOWARD PORTABLE DESKS FOR LEARNERS.

As learners across the country prepare to go back to school, more than 3 million will return to classrooms with no desks – a stark reality facing children in so many of our country’s peri-urban and rural areas.

The Tutudesk campaign, which has provided portable school desks, known as Tutudesks, to children in sub-Saharan Africa for over a decade, is an initiative close the heart of Erik Roos, CEO of Pharma Dynamics.

Over the last two years, Pharma Dynamics has donated in excess of 45 000 Tutudesks to beneficiary schools in Mpumalanga and Limpopo to help realise the Tutudesk’s goal of getting 20 million desks to 20 million children by 2025.

As millions of learners return to school during the COVID-19 outbreak, Roos has made it his mission to ensure that children are both safe and have the right tools to equip themselves for the ‘new normal’.

To demonstrate his commitment, he will be donating a further R1,2 million toward the Tutudesk project, which will give thousands more learners access to a desk – a critically important tool in their literacy and academic development. These Tutudesks also contain important COVID-19 related education messaging, designed to ensure that the beneficiary children and their communities are, and remain, constantly informed as to how best to stay safe during the pandemic.

To build on the campaign, Roos is challenging other business executives to do the same.

“We are living in unprecedented times, which has caused a global disruption in many sectors, including education. As captains of industry, we have the dual means to change the impact of the pandemic and make a long-lasting, positive difference to millions of learners throughout our country by supporting the Tutudesk campaign.

“Research shows that the provision of Tutudesks to learners facilitate sharp, immediate improvements in multiple areas relating to literacy development and academic performance. Eighty percent of teachers cite an improvement in learners’ handwriting, 77% says it has made learning easier for their students and that they are able to teach more effectively. There is also an overall 65% improvement in homework delivery as the desks are portable and can be taken home.

While many learners may have desks, books, internet connectivity, a laptop or tablet at home or school, the reality is that so many others don’t. We need to, urgently and wherever possible, minimise the differences in opportunities and level the playing field in order to facilitate and expand learning and not allow the COVID-19 crisis to have an even larger, detrimental impact on the learning of less-fortunate children and youth.

“Providing learners in impoverished areas with Tutudesks is an immediate and effective way in which CEOs and business leaders can respond – at grassroots level – to immediately improve learning during the crisis, as well as constantly inculcating COVID-19 educational messaging to ensure the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“I am calling on all CEO’s to join us in supporting this vitally important initiative. Let’s give our youth the best chance of staying engaged in learning amid the pandemic,” encourages Roos.

The unique, imprinted messaging on each Tutudesk ensures that a ‘mobile billboard’ is created, serving as a constant, visual reminder of what learners should do to limit their risk of getting infected with COVID-19.

The messaging on the Tutudesk acts as a unique, high impact mobile billboard as children move between school and home – educating not only learners, but also parents and communities at large about the threat that COVID-19 poses, as well as the measures they can employ to safeguard themselves and their loved ones.

As the Tutudesks are portable, they also assist greatly in ensuring learners ‘social distance’ correctly in their classrooms – even in settings where desks are available.

Roos’ goal is to generate in excess of R8 million in funding to gift learners with another 50 000 Tutudesks during the 3rd school term.

To participate in Pharma Dynamics’ Tutudesk COVID-19 Challenge, interested companies or philanthropic organisations can contact Pharma Dynamics at info@pharmadynamics.co.za.

A million children are left home alone

Prof Servaas van der Berg and Dr Nic Spaull, two faculty members at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Economics recently completed their report;

“Counting the Cost: Covid-19 school closures in South Africa and its impact on children”, which found that the 1 million children left home alone have no other adult caregiver in the house, except for a working parent.

Our analysis shows that if all employed workers return to work, there would be more than 2 million children aged 0-15 years without an older sibling (15 years+) or an adult caregiver to look after them.

“It is highly plausible that hundreds of thousands of these children would be left home alone in households without an adult caretaker if their employed caregiver was forced to return to work to earn an income and sustain her family.”

“Even though most sectors of the economy have reopened, ECD centres or crèches remain closed,” the researchers said.

“Given what is now known about the mortality rates of Covid-19, we believe that the ongoing disruptions to children’s care, education and health are no longer justified.”

Based on the government’s current plans, by the end of Term 2 on August 7, South African children will have lost between 25% and 57% of the “normal” school days scheduled up to that point.

“After reviewing the evidence presented in this paper, it is our view that keeping children out of school is not in the best interests of the child.”

“Consequently, all children should return to schools, crèches and ECD centres without any further delay. The profound costs borne by small children and families as a result of the ongoing nationwide lockdown and school closures will be felt for at least the next 10 years,” the researchers said

They said children were at risk of lasting psychological distress.

“School closures, lockdowns and increased financial stress are likely to have increased the risk of child abuse, mental health breakdowns and the emotional exhaustion of caregivers together with rising rates of depression and anxiety.”

“Recent surveys of children in Nicaragua, Indonesia and a number of other countries have shown that children are at higher risk of lasting psychological distress.”

They also added, “Children’s routine immunisations, testing for HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and health seeking behaviour when children seem sick, are all likely to have decreased as a result of the lockdown and school closures.”

“The National Institute for Communicable Diseases reports a 48% reduction in TB testing.”

“Any delays in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV in either pregnant mothers or new-born children is likely to have long-term consequences.”

Source: IOL

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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