5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 9,160 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,832,479. Deaths have reached 58,795 (+93), while recoveries have climbed to 1,656,680, leaving the country with a balance of 117,004 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 2,114,204.

  • Crisis: Gauteng premier David Makhura says that putting Gauteng into a stricter level of lockdown is a possibility, as Covid-19 continues to escalate in the province. The premier described the situation as a house on fire and said the provincial government doesn’t want to give the impression that everything is okay. The provincial health department on Monday said that hospitals were currently coping with the influx of patients – however, Makhura said that beds were filling up quickly, and by next week, they will all be full. The premier will discuss lockdown level four or five with his council on Tuesday. [TimesLive]

  • Schools: While Gauteng is in the eye of the storm of the third wave, health experts warn that other provinces are not far off, with the Western Cape expected to be in Gauteng’s position within three to four weeks. Calls are growing for harsher lockdown restrictions to be put in place, and for schools to be closed in a bid to prevent the spread of the disease among families. Unions have been calling for schools to be shut down temporarily during the third wave to protect teachers – however, the education department is pushing back against this, as school kids have already lost too much teaching and learning time to Covid. [702]

  • Gigaba: Former minister Malusi Gigaba continues to refute testimony that he was in bed with the Gupta family and enabled state capture. Gigaba served as minister of finance, public enterprises and home affairs in Jacob Zuma’s presidency. In each department, there are allegations that state processes were bent to the great benefit of the family. Gigaba is denying he had a hand in scrapping air routes to benefit a Gupta-linked airline,  he also denied taking money from the family. He has also denied other allegations tied to SOEs advertising and sponsoring the Gupta newspaper, The New Age, and his various personal dealings with the family. [Daily Maverick]

  • Undeterred; Despite mineral experts finding that the gems discovered in KZN are nothing more than quartz crystals, desperate South Africans that flocked to the area seeking fortune are undeterred and continue to dig. According to reports on the ground, many of the would-be miners do not believe the experts’ assessment, and still hope to find diamonds, while others believe even the quartz crystals hold some value that they will be able to cash in on. Thousands of people flocked to KwaHlathi near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal last week, after the diamond-like crystals were unearthed. [ENCA]

  • Markets: The rand opened slightly stronger on Monday as a rally in the dollar stalled following a surprise hawkish shift from the US Federal Reserve last week. The rand lost more than 4% against the dollar last week as the US Fed brought forward its projections for interest rate increases, prompting a sell-off in emerging-market currencies. This week, South Africa-focused investors will look to the consumer and producer price indices for clues about inflationary pressures in Africa’s most industrialised economy. On Tuesday the rand is at R14.25/$, R16.97/€ and R19.83/£. [Reuters]

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