Statement by KZN Premier Hon. Mr Sihle Zikalala on the occasion of a media briefing to provide an update on COVID - 19 and related matters, Durban, 29 November 2020
KZN MEC for Health, Hon. Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu,
Government Officials Present,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Introduction and welcome
We wish to extend a warm welcome to you as members of the Fourth Estate, to this media briefing. We recognise and appreciate your role in being the vanguard of our hard-earned freedom and democracy. We also acknowledge the vital role that you play in keeping our fellow citizens informed, while demanding transparency and accountability from those who have been tasked with the responsibility to lead.
16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women And Children And Femicide
As you are aware, we are in the period where we are undertaking an intensified campaign on no violence against women and children, including gender based violence and femicide. In KZN we are rolling-out a 365 days campaign.
We therefore call on all our citizens to take a stand and say Enough is Enough!!! Sekwanele. It is time for all of us to stand-up and end this pandemic that brings so much pain, suffering, heartache, and shame on our society.
We recently launched the programme of action on No Violence Against Women and Children and Femicide campaign in the province last week.
We will therefore be scaling up interventions aimed at protecting our women, children and the vulnerable in our communities. Our campaign is grassroots-based, and all MECs, Mayors, Councillors and Amakhosi are leading programmes at a local level and integrating them in line with the District Development Model.
We refuse that our beautiful province be associated with violent crimes, especially contact crimes and the dehumanisation of woman and children. We will take the war to criminals and perpetrators of violence against women and children. We have mobilised law enforcement authorities, and are encouraging society to speak out, and not suffer in silence.
It is said that "for evil acts to succeed, it is because good men and women keep quiet". We must act in unity to prevent and ultimately defeat this scourge, and create an environment where women and children are free to exercise their choices without the fear of being abused or attacked.
Winning the battle against this epidemic will take nothing less than all of us working together. As the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, we are waging war against GBV and Femicide not just for these 16 days, but for the next 365 days, and beyond.
World Aids Day Commemoration
On Tuesday, 01 December 2020, we will join the rest of the world in commemorating World Aids Day under the noble theme, "Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact."
This is a profoundly important theme. It tells us that through our ability to face up to incredible hardships and persevere, we can conquer and prevail under very trying conditions. Given where we've come from and the devastation that HIV/AIDS used to cause in our society, the fact that today we are even talking about the possibility of ending this pandemic is nothing short of a miracle.
While World Aids Day is an opportunity for us to remember solemnly all those who have passed away due to this epidemic, it is also a chance for us to appreciate all the scientific advancements that have been made to weaken the impact of HIV/AIDS globally, which was once an unstoppable pandemic.
It is also an opportunity for us to take stock of the journey that we have travelled as a country and province, and to further accelerate efforts and programmes that are aimed at wiping this scourge from the face of our society.
On Tuesday, our entire provincial cabinet will visit all the 11 districts of KZN to engage with communities in commemoration of World Aids Day. We will unpack the progress the province is making. We invite all citizens to observe this day and renew their commitment towards creating an HIV/AIDS-free generation.
Building stability in the road freight sector - outcomes of engagements with truck drivers and operators
On Friday the 27th of November 2020, we held an emergency meeting with key stakeholders in the trucking sector as part of efforts to bring stability to this critical sector of our economy. The engagements follows recent disturbances on our major national highways, where trucks were burnt and drivers attacked in a long-standing dispute over the employment of foreign nationals in the trucking industry.
We reached important commitments which we believe that if they are implemented successfully will guarantee peace and stability in this all-important industry.
In principle we agreed that:
The truck operators must with immediate effect prioritise the employment of South African drivers;
We will soon, together with national government, mount an intensive operation along the N2, N3 and N11 routes in KwaZulu-Natal targeting drivers without proper permits;
Every foreign national who is currently driving a South African-registered truck must be appropriately licenced, and hold a valid permit issued by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The Department of Home Affairs work permit is only issued upon offer of employment by the prospective employer in South Africa;
In the meantime, the truck operators have committed to providing at least 400 new jobs, and these will prioritise South Africans. We will engage the Department of Labour and Employment to manage the database of prospective drivers, which will be submitted by the driver associations, including the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), and National Drivers' Federation;
The Department will also verify the drivers' database, ensuring clear criminal records and valid qualifications. We now have a firm commitment from the drivers that there will be no burning of trucks, or the blocking of any road or entry to the Port of Durban;
At the same time, we expect the justice, crime prevention, and security cluster not to abandon their core responsibility to enforce the law without any hesitation wherever this is required.
We agree that these are stop-gap measures. The long-term solution includes effecting appropriate amendments to the law. Therefore, our proposals to national government include speeding up the review of the scarce skills policy to clarify the contentious question of the employment of foreign nationals in low-skill sectors.
For this reason, we have escalated the matter to national government as this is not only a KwaZulu-Natal matter, but it has implications for the entire SADC region.
Our Provincial Government is fully committed to the transformation and stabilization of the road freight and logistics industry, which is a critical sector of the provincial and national economy.
We will work together with all stakeholders as long as they are prepared to find a lasting solution to these current challenges. The task team that has been assigned the responsibility of addressing challenges in the road freight sector will meet weekly to receive reports on operations.
We wish to reiterate that we will not allow lawlessness to threaten our economy; and we have no doubt that all our key stakeholders will play their role in this regard.
KZN COVID-19 trend analysis
Moving on to the COVID - 19 trends analysis, KwaZulu-Natal has now had a total of 127 506 confirmed COVID - 19 cases, with 6212 still being active. Sadly, we have lost 3340 people, while thankfully, 117 964 have recovered.
As the Province of KwaZulu-Natal we are currently ranked the third highest countrywide, after Gauteng and the Western Cape, in terms of laboratory-confirmed cases. But we are ranked at number 4, after Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape in terms of COVID - 19 fatalities.
Needless to say, we are extremely concerned about the increase in the number of new COVID -19 cases in the province over the past four weeks. We are currently in week 48 of the year 2020. The actual number of confirmed cases in week 45 was 765; in week 46 it was 869; and in week 47 we had 1 134 cases.
Over the past week, which is week 48, the figures have jumped substantially, to 1 652. The number of new cases increased by 30% between week 47 & 48. Over the past week, the highest number of cases received on each day was 345 on Friday (27 November 2020). As of yesterday, 28 November 2020 we had 287 new cases, and no deaths.
EThekwini Metro has continued to record the highest number of new cases daily, and has contributed approximately half of the total laboratory-confirmed cases provincially.
The number of deaths reported in the province has been declining in the past four weeks. The actual number of deaths reported was 18 during week 45; 23 during week 46; 17 during week 47; and 16 during week 48.
The case fatality rate therefore remains at 2.6%; and the mortality rate was 30 deaths per 100 000 population. Amajuba and Ethekwini districts have the highest mortality rate, at 42 deaths per 100 000.
Infected health care workers
A total of 7 132 health care workers (HCWs) have been infected with COVID-19 in the public sector since the beginning of the pandemic. Of the total infected, 88 or 1% have sadly succumbed to the disease. The majority of the infected health care workers (IHCW) were nurses, who make up 58% of these statistics. No new health care infections or deaths have been reported as of the 27th of November 2020.
Readiness for the second wave or resurgence of COVID - 19
The province is monitoring resurgence indicators very closely, and has not reached the resurgence threshold - although in the past week the number of cases have been fluctuating, with the highest number of 353 recorded on the 27th of November.
These indicators are monitored daily; and if the resurgence indicators are triggered, the Provincial Resurgence Plan will be implemented.
Distribution of cases and deaths by district, KwaZulu-Natal, 5 Mar-28 Nov 2020
District New cases %. New cases Total cases %.Total Total deaths %. Total deaths Case Fatality rate (%)
EThekwini 156 54.4 60 354 47.3 1 632 48.9 2.7
ILembe 16 5.6 7 280 5.7 124 3.7 1.7
UMgungundlovu 13 4.5 17 014 13.3 463 13.9 2.7
UThukela 7 2.4 5 285 4.1 154 4.6 2.9
King Cetshwayo 7 2.4 10 757 8.4 277 8.3 2.6
UGu 47 16.4 5 497 4.3 131 3.9 2.4
Amajuba 3 1.0 6 981 5.5 235 7.0 3.4
UMkhanyakude 0 0.0 2 969 2.3 87 2.6 2.9
Harry Gwala 18 6.3 2 661 2.1 80 2.4 3.0
Zululand 7 2.4 5 100 4.0 71 2.1 1.4
UMzinyathi 4 1.4 2 637 2.1 86 2.6 3.3
Unallocated 9 3.1 971 0.8 0 0.0 0.0
Total 287 100.0 127 506 100.0 3 340 100.0 2.6
The districts with a high magnitude of laboratory-confirmed cases have contributed a high number of COVID-19 related deaths. These districts are Amajuba, Ugu, Ethekwini, Umgungundlovu, and Uthukela.
In recent weeks, we have received reports of the following cluster outbreaks in the Province:
Cluster Number affected
University of KwaZulu Natal 47
One High School in Durban 17
Ladysmith Correctional Services 10
Chatsworth 13 (2 deaths)
Field hospitals and bed availability
The Province de-commissioned the Royal Showgrounds Field Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. However, we must point out that if the need arises, we have the capacity to activate beds that were used during first wave.
Future of staff who were employed for COVID - 19
The department has submitted a request to extend the contracts of the staff who were recruited for COVID-19 until March 2021. At the appropriate time, we will make an announcement regarding the outcome of this request.
COVID - 19 resurgence and festive season plans
The resurgence plan has been developed and is underpinned by the basic actions that should be carried out when responding to the possible resurgence.
A Festive plan has been developed with a focus on risk communication and community engagement. The following strategies are key in preventing COVID-19 during festive season:
Risk communication will focus on re-enforcing precautionary measures; that is the:
1. Mask wearing;
2. Hand and hygiene; and
3. Social distancing
Management of indoor and outdoor gatherings
Safe and responsible holiday conduct in KZN
Shielding vulnerable family members when coming back home or visiting family & friends
Engagement with taxi owners, drivers and passengers on COVID-19 prevention interventions;
Engagements with owners and patrons at taverns, night clubs; as well as adherence of COVID - 19 prevention interventions during weddings, funerals, and at churches, restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping malls.
Loud-hailing at mass gatherings and outside beaches,
Conclusion: (Message to matric learners and paper leaks)
We wish the Matric Class of 2020 all the best with their ongoing final examinations. We are aware of the many upheavals that they have had to endure due to disruptions caused by COVID - 19. We commend them for remaining resolute, and for having come this far.
Both learners and educators will go down in history as the brave warriors who soldiered on in the name of pursuing education, in spite of all the challenges that have been experienced this year.
In the same breath, we want to assure the public that we are doing everything possible to safeguard and preserve the quality and integrity of these examinations by eradicating the risk of examination paper leaks.
As we have stated before, we will take the most stringent action possible against any individuals who make themselves guilty of acts of fraud and corruption relating to the examinations. They will regret the day they ever conceived such despicable and uncivilised thoughts. Again, congratulations to the Class of 2020 for having come this far. We wish you all the best.