Zikalala warns against individuals claiming to have ‘beaten’ Covid

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KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has issued a stern warning discouraging individuals in declaring that they have ‘beaten’ Covid-19.

In his address on Sunday, 17 January, Zikalala said that such behaviour is reckless and in some cases insensitive to those who are in mourning after losing loved ones to the virus.

He said: “Such statements are dangerous in a sense that they create a false sense of security that implies that when people recover from Covid-19, they will not contract the virus again. We believe this is reckless because there is a growing body of scientific evidence and living examples that prove that it is possible to get re-infected.”

The premier also raised concern about patients presenting themselves late for treatment. “Given the brutality of this second wave of Covid-19 and its associated variant, we are concerned about the late presentation to healthcare facilities by patients. We are noting that people over-rely on home-made recommended solutions such as steaming and use of traditional approaches.”

He said while this may be part of our arsenal in this war, he encourages that if people test positive, they must try and reach health facilities on time. “Please do not delay or wait until your health condition has deteriorated,” said Zikalala.

In the latest trend analysis, the premier confirmed that KZN continues to rank first in terms of the number of active cases and that the province contributes 21 percent to the country’s total number of cases.

“Quite notably, the eThekwini Municipality has contributed 44 percent of the reported deaths. The median age for the deaths was 62 years and more than half of the deceased were female amounting to 54 percent,” said Zikalala.

It was also determined that the most common recorded comorbidities among the deceased were hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiac diseases and renovascular disease infections. With a recovery rate of 76 percent, Zikalala said that only a united front can help in beating the scourge of the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “We have far surpassed the peak of the first wave. Let us continue to avoid super-spreader activities. If we can mount a united front against this virus, and adhere to all non-pharmaceutical interventions in fighting it, we can begin to make a dent against the second surge that is causing so much destruction and pain. Let us remember those who have departed and keep in our thoughts and prayers all of those who are in mourning, so that they may find the strength to overcome the difficulties that are confronting them.”

Zikalala urged people to wear face masks when going out, and wash hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser and maintain social distancing.

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Community bands together to bring needed Covid relief

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As communities continue to buckle under the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic community- based organisations and volunteers in Newcastle continue to double their efforts to bring relief to patients.

“What keeps a nation strong is really the community. It is about people and helping each other,” says Razia Cassim, one of Newcastle’s community members who are lending a helping hand during trying times. Cassim said that many people have lost their jobs as businesses were affected by the lockdown and many are struggling to support their families.

Orgnaisations have put together grocery packs, sanitisation kits and personal protective equipment for medical staff. Cassim and her team honoured healthcare workers at the Mother and Child Clinic as well as the Madadeni provincial hospital. Another team, wanting to remain anonymous is providing nutritious soup with ingredients that can help the human body fight the virus with anti-inflammatory ingredients. Said Cassim: “We as a community have come together to show our appreciation to our frontline workers. We held a fundraiser and we have managed to come up with PPE gift packs for the doctors and nurses just as a small token of appreciation for their tireless dedication in their duties,” she said.

Each hamper consisted of disposable coveralls, reinforced gowns, face shields, face masks, sanitisers, sanitiser belt pouch, gloves and multipurpose disinfectants. Hampers were also given to the Muslim Burial Society and to the Newcastle Crematorium. “The response from the community has been amazing,” said Cassim. “Our town is full of generous people who help without asking questions or giving a second thought. Our aim is to help those who are vulnerable to get back on their feet. I would like to thank each and every person who has so graciously given. May God bless you all in His abundance.”

The drive of generosity has been much welcomed by the community. Simoné Daniels, one of the recipients, said that she was glad that people have been so kind. “Every person at this moment is fighting some kind of battle, be it health or financial. I am finding things a bit difficult as of late, so I am very thankful to the constant kindness displayed by our close-knit community,” said Daniels.

Patients who are at home and infected with Covid-19 also have some aid. An “anonymous team”, who have so kindly given of their time and resources, are providing those who are in quarantine with a hearty chicken soup and a coronavirus fighting tonic to assist in the recovery process.The tonic consists of garlic, lemon, kulunji (black seeds) and some other natural ingredients to assist the body with healing and inflammation. “Whatever we are doing is not for popularity but to simply help those fighting the virus and assist them into a speedy recovery,” said one of the team members.

The package is delivered free of charge in Newcastle. “Those who need assistance can simply contact us on WhatsApp and provide us with their address and two contact numbers and we will drop off the package. So many are ill and this is just something small that we can do during this time. The community of Newcastle has been absolutely amazing. Since we began this, the amount of assistance offered has been absolutely overwhelming,” she said. Should anyone in quarantine suffering with Covid-19 need help send a WhatsApp to 063-016-7327.

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KZN MEC Ntuli, an ‘exemplary servant’ dies

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Ntuli, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison

“We have lost a humble servant of the people and a true champion of the poor and the downtrodden.” – Zikalala.

It is with deep shock and sadness that Sihle Zikalala, Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) Premier announced the untimely passing of Bhekuyise Ntuli, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison. Ntuli passed away, in a Durban hospital, due to Covid-19 related complications, on Saturday afternoon, 16 January.

Addressing the media, Zikalala said: “MEC Ntuli has been on the frontline of combat, working day in and day out to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on citizens. He is a soldier who died with his boots on. He was a team player, who always led from the front, including when it came to fighting Covid-19 in the province.”

Muntukayise Bhekuyise Ntuli, was born in 1957 in Mtubatuba, in the north of KwaZulu-Natal. He worked in the ANC underground structures and was a liberation fighter, who was involved in uMkhonto WeSizwe underground operations. Affectionately known by his clan name “Mphemba”, he was appointed to the position of MEC in September 2019. Zikalala called Ntuli a “humble, loyal, dedicated, hard-working and exemplary servant of the people of KZN.”

He said that Ntuli was at the coalface of the epic battle from the time the first case was confirmed last year. Ntuli led many campaigns against the virus as Chair of the Justice, and Crime Prevention Cluster with the Provincial Command Council.

Zikalala said Ntuli always tackled his tasks and responsibilities with aplomb, in spite of their complex and sensitive nature. This included programmes that were aimed at reversing the tide of gender-based violence, taxi violence, and reducing the carnage on the province’s roads. “He has consistently displayed exceptional leadership and wisdom.  His charm and charisma enabled him to tackle the most challenging aspect of his portfolio.  He criss-crossed the province, ensuring that people adhere to the Covid-19 protocols,” said Zikalala.

Ntuli previously served as a shop steward of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, and was involved in the formation of ANC structures in the then Northern Natal region. “Mphemba garnered a lot of respect as a peacemaker at the height of political violence between ANC and IFP in Northern Natal, mainly in what is now known as the Musa Dladla Region, “ said Zikalala.

Ntuli served for more than 15 years as the Chairperson of the ANC in the Musa Dladla Region. He has served for more than 20 years as a member and leader of the ANC sub–committee on Peace and Stability. He also served as a Member of Council, and the Chairperson of the Council of the University of Zululand. He was involved in numerous community development projects, assisting community organizations and young people.

Ntuli held many tertiary qualifications, including a Primary Teachers Certificate from eMadadeni College; a degree in Management from UCT Graduate School of Business; a Certificate in Leadership from Wits University; and Post–graduate Diploma in Research, Strategic Diplomacy and Transitional Justice from University of Johannesburg, among others. Zikalala called his Ntuli’s loss a “major blow.”

EThekwini Municipality Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda conveyed his condolences to the Ntuli’s family. Kaunda has called on other leaders to emulate Ntuli whom he described as a disciplined and humble servant of the people who dedicated his entire life in the struggle for a better life for all.

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Fire razes family home

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A Phoenix family is fortunate to have escaped unharmed from a fire that gutted their home as they waited for firefighters to respond and watched helplessly while the flames devoured their 48-year-old dwelling, in Bridgevale Crescent, Rydalvale, on Friday night.

Speaking to the Phoenix Tabloid, Sharmaine Pillay, who resides at her dad’s property said it was like a nightmare unfolding before their eyes.

“My son,19, and my niece,5, walked up stairs and quickly alerted us that there was a fire in the room. In a short space of time, the fire spread and we basically fled from our home with the clothes on our back. We sat in our vehicle and watched as the fire engulfed our home and all our belongings slowly became ash,” said an emotional Pillay.

Her dad, who owns the home, Sam Arnachellan, 67, got into his vehicle and drove to the fire station where he virtually had the firefighters following him to his property in the hope of saving something of his home.

“Neighbours activated their panic alarms and we called the fire station. My dad felt so helpless so he drove there and brought the firefighters to our premises. We are grateful to our neighbours and community members who tried their best to assist with the fire by dousing the flames with buckets of water. Sadly, the fire spread rapidly and only the shell of our home is left,” said Pillay.

The family is now residing in an outbuilding on the property. Their neighbour’s home was also affected by the fire. Upon news of the fire being shared in the community, non-profit organization based in Phoenix, Buzme Ashique Panjatan Al Ashrafi (BAPA) rushed to the aid of the displaced family.

Spokesperson for BAPA, Muhammed Carrim, told the Phoenix Tabloid that their organization reaches out to humanity and not religion. “Bapa believes in assisting the community irrespective of religion, culture, race or ethnicity. The family approached us and we were the first to respond to their plea. During these difficult Covid times, we strive to lend a hand to those in need,” said Carrim.

According to Carrim, there was load shedding on Friday night coupled with a powerful storm that could have contributed to the fire. “When power was restored, it is believed that there was a power surge which caused an electrical fault. This led to the mattress catching alight in the room and the fire spreading rapidly. The family of 10 managed to make a quick escape but unfortunately, their home could not be saved,” said Carrim.

Carrim commended the community and neighbours for acting quickly and rallying around the family in their dire need. Bapa has initiated a relief aid project to garner assistance for the family. “We need to ensure that this family can get back on their feet. They are at a loss right now. They are trying to find a way forward after this epic disaster,” said Carrim.

Pillay said her parents toiled for their home. ” My dad has lived there for 48 years. He is heartbroken. He refuses to leave and stay with family. We cannot leave him at this time so we are roughing it out in a confined space. It was painful to watch our home go up in flames. Our entire lives burnt to ashes in that fire. Our personal documents, memories, sentimental belongings and our valuables perished in the blaze. Now we have to build from scratch during these life threatening times. We are grateful to Bapa, our neighburs and the community for the support and compassion extended to our family. We are indebted to you,” said Pillay.

Ethekwini Fire Department Division Commander Bheki Hadebe from the uMhlanga offices confirmed the incident. He said: “We received a call at 5.26pm. The Phoenix fire department was the first to arrive because Bridgevale Crescent is near Phoenix. When they got there, the upper section was already ablaze because the fire started from the bedroom. At this stage it is still unclear what started the fire. No injuries were reported.”
Any donations to help the family rebuild their home and lives can be directed towards Bapa chairperson, Sabir Sheik who can be contacted on 083-788-3340.

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Alleged queuing dispute for Covid relief grant leads to murder and mayhem in Isipingo

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PT Alarms Tactical and PT K9 Unit pursued and apprehended the shooter All relevant authorities at the scene of the shooting

A man has been shot dead and two others sustained gunshot wounds when an enraged shooter went on a rampage following an alleged dispute about queuing for the Covid relief grant, on Phila Ndwandwe Road in Isipingo, a short while ago.

According to PT Alarms spokesperson, Dhevan Govindasamy, PT Alarms Tactical unit responded swiftly to the scene after receiving reports of the shooting.

The apprehended shooter was assaulted by an enraged mob

Upon arrival on scene, a man and a woman were found to have sustained gunshot wounds to the leg and feet. Members of the public pointed out the direction of the shooter.

PT Alarms Tactical and PT K9 Unit went in pursuit of the suspect who shot a third person at the corner of Gokul and Inwabi Road. PT Tactical officers searched for and apprehended the shooter,” said Govindasamy.

He added: “An enraged mob descended on the suspect and meted out mob justice. Sadly, the third victim who was shot on Inwabi Road succumbed to his injury and was declared deceased on scene by PT Ambulance Service. The two casualties were stabilized and transported to hospital. Paramedics are treating the arrested shooter.”

The road has been cordoned off as authorities investigate further. All relevant authorities responded to the scene including Isipingo SAPS, Umlazi SAPS K9 unit, Metro Police and KZN EMS.

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Water relief for Chatsworth community

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The National Indian Congress of South Africa (NICSA) in partnership with various sponsors and donors took on the arduous task of serving the community of Chatsworth with much-needed water after being stranded for almost a week without water.

Vassie Govender, founder of Phoenix-based non-profit organisation said that his organisation, RAGS was humbly requested to assist in distributing the water to the various communities. “In partnership with NICSA, RAGS, Venk-Pak, and various other stakeholders, we managed to assist many residents of Chatsworth and surrounding areas. What was however, disappointing is that the lack of responsibility by the younger generation that were few and far in making sure that the elderly were being assisted in this time of crisis,” said Govender.

He said that as RAGS, they ensured that they were able to take the water to the most vulnerable and that was the elderly, pensioners, Covid-19 infected and or disabled people in the community. “The Ramakrishna Centre based in unit 9 Chatsworth was kind enough to allow the use of their premises as a depot/distribution centre. We must say that it was not an easy task as we were based in Phoenix and we had to gather water from Verulam and Phoenix and take it up to Chatsworth,” said Govender.

He added: “A very big thank-you must go to Venk-Pak and NEC for the jojo tanks, flow-bins and their trucks that were provided at their own cost to ease the task.
The community of Moorton and Welbedact benefitted the most as we were stationed there. I must state that many businesses, companies, volunteers and individuals had come forth to assist communities that were desperately in need of our assistance, we salute you. A very big thank-you to Karou Charou KC for coordinating the entire project which was well planned and executed.”

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Phoenix leaders respond to Ramaphosa’s speech

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work closely, social distancing, ronnie veeran, covid-19, centre

Following President Ramaphosa’s latest speech regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, some Phoenix community and religious leaders have come out in full support of the new as well as the previous measures that were announced.

They all agree that with the growing number of infections and fatalities, no effort must be spared to ensure that the pandemic is brought into check to prevent the unnecessary loss of health and life.

Abdul Gaffar, member of the Trust Board of the Phoenix Islamic Goorba (Burial) Society based at the Al-Ameen Musjid in Longcroft, Phoenix said: “As a rule no Covid-19 bodies are taken to the house under any circumstances. Instead we work closely with the Islamic Burial Society (IBS) and these cases are taken to their centre, the Khalid Sha Centre, in Clairwood where the bodies are washed and taken directly to the cemetery where no more than 30 people are permitted.

The centre vigorously enforces all Covid-19 protocols. The Unit 8 mosque is closed for Jumma on Fridays and only the residents at the mosque complex are permitted to attend Friday Jumma. Sanitising, social distancing and the wearing of masks has become a habit at the mosque since the start of the lockdown.”

Pastor Mervyn Pillay, campus Pastor of Durban Christian Centre (DCC), Phoenix, said: “No normal church services are held at the premises in Abervale Road on Sundays and Tuesdays until further announcements by the President. However, there is a greater need now for our counselling services and this continues telephonically and on zoom.

“Only in respect of desperate cases do we meet at the church. Our distribution of food hampers to the most needy is ongoing and here we work closely with Ronnie Veeran to assist us. We will continue to have both normal and Covid-19 funerals on our premises and ensure that the maximum number of people present are no more than fifty.”

Sunil Bhasdaw, managing director of Oasis Spice and Prayer Goods Shop at Gem City said: “We have been taking all the Covid-19 safety precautions as laid down by our President since March 2020. We ensure that all customers and staff sanitise and use a mask when entering the store. My staff ensures that all customers follow the social distancing rules whilst shopping. We have experienced a rapid increase in Covid-19 deaths.

“All the necessary protocols and precautions are taken when serving the family to maintain the safety of both our staff and customers. As a service, I offer telephonic counselling to assist our customers who have lost their loved ones during this pandemic. This is a period to introspect and spend quality time in prayer. Set daily positive goals, such as some light exercises, yoga and meditation, listen to uplifting music, and eat 50 percent raw food to boost your immune system.”

The Minorities of South Africa (MOSA) offices at the Broadway Centre in Stonebridge has remained opened throughout the lockdown period. Ronnie Veeran, spokesperson for Mosa said: “Since the second wave of the pandemic we have asked the public to sanitise, sign the register and sit outside the office while we attend to their issues.

“We have no less than six staff members at any one time and we had to do this to protect ourselves and the people visiting. The public have been very patient and understanding.”

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