Daily news update: Steve Biko Hospital battling massive Covid-19 influx, and Presidency initiates disciplinary action against Khusela Diko

The improvised treatment area for Covid-19 cases at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Picture: Twitter

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The Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria has been battling an influx of Covid-19 patients over the past few weeks, prompting them to put up tents and use other measure, in order to avoid having to turn patients away.

The Gauteng Department of Health has confirmed that the hospital is under strain, and that pictures and videos of patients being treated in makeshift emergency units at the facility are authentic.

Kekana said the department converted the Tshwane District Hospital into a Covid-19 treatment facility last year, which operates in partnership with Steve Biko as a Covid-19 treatment complex, in order to increase designated bed space for Covid-19 patients.

“The complex is currently under pressure especially with regards to the patients that require specialist immediate attention and therefore can be treated in only certain hospitals, that are also overwhelmed. The SBAH Emergency Unit entrance has an area that has a roof, designed to handle disasters of especially patients in the emergency category Priority 3 (P3s), of which patients whose images are in the social media fall into,” she explained referring to the patients which appear to be treated outside in the makeshift facility.

Presidency initiates disciplinary process against Khusela Diko

The Presidency has decided to initiate an internal disciplinary process against President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

Diko took special leave from the Presidency in July 2020 in the light of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into matters relating to procurement by the Gauteng Department of Health.

The Presidency said the SIU has reported that while the corruption component of the investigation is ongoing, it has not obtained any evidence pointing to Diko’s involvement in the awarding of two contracts by the Gauteng Department of Health to Royal Bhaca, a company owned by Diko’s husband, Amabhaca, King Madzikazi II Thandisizwe, or in respect of the irregularities identified in respect of such awards.

Government urged to expedite Liquor Amendment Bill

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa (SAAPA SA) has urged the government to expedite the Liquor Amendment Bill of 2017, with the aim of reducing the “harms” of alcohol rather than “relying on emergency measures in times of crisis”.

The alliance said it welcomes the acknowledgement in the ANC’s January 8 statement of the impact alcohol abuse has on communities.

“The president [Cyril Ramaphosa] correctly pointed out the need for a national strategy that includes legislative reviews and community mobilization,” the alliance said in a statement.

A customer’s vehicle is packed with alcohol at the Makro Liquor Store in Roodepoort, 18 August 2020, as South Africa allows the sale of alcohol and cigarettes again as the country moves into level two of lockdown during efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Picture: Michel Bega

SAAPA SA said it looks forward to engaging with the government, which it urged to take steps “to permanently reduce alcohol-related harm” in the country.

“Cabinet adopted a new Liquor Policy in 2016, a policy aligned with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol (2010). It must be implemented urgently.”

Government workers to take fight for increases to Concourt

Can an employer simply back out of a collective bargaining agreement by crying poverty?

Fourteen South African union federations want the Constitutional Court to say this is not so; and are taking their battle with the biggest employer in the land – the state – to the highest court in the land, The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) and the Public Servants Association (PSA) are appealing a Labour Court ruling which favoured government after it backed out of a 2018 agreement to hike up wages for public servants.

Speaking on behalf of the unions, secretary-general of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Mugwena Maluleke said the appeal would be based on three main arguments:

  • That government’s argument that the increases were unenforceable couldn’t stand because it waited two years before acting to correct this;
  • That the court did not consider all of the relevant correspondence between the employer and unions following the agreement;
  • And that government did not even try to find a middle ground upon realising there wasn’t enough money to implement the wage increases.

Indonesia says they’ve located black box recorders from crashed plane

Authorities have pinpointed the location of two black boxes from a crashed Indonesian jet, they said Sunday, referring to cockpit voice and flight data recorders that could be crucial to understanding what happened to the aircraft, which had 62 people aboard.

“We have located the position of the black boxes, both of them,” said Soerjanto Tjahjanto, head of Indonesia’s transport safety agency.

“Divers will start looking for them now and hopefully it won’t be long before we get them.”

Divers pulled body parts, wreckage and clothing from waters off Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Sunday, as the military located a signal it hoped would lead to the wreckage of a jet that crashed with 62 people on board.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.

Church elders arrested after attacking cops

Police in Gauteng’s Sedibeng District arrested three people in Sebokeng on Sunday, for contravening the COVID-19 Disaster Management Act regulations, as well as public violence.

According to a statement, two male church elders, aged 47 and 69, and a 62-year old woman were arrested, after police responded to a report of an illegal gathering at a church in Sebokeng Zone 7.

On arrival, the approximately 250 gathered congregants were ordered to disperse, but instead they allegedly started throwing chairs at police officers. Police responded by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at the congregants.

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