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Nzimande warns students not to treat COVID-19 lockdown as a holiday

Nzimande said he would be engaging with the Department of Communications and various institutions to provide e-learning guides and access to data for online learning.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - A number of ministers, representing the COVID-19 National Command Council have on Saturday shed some light on a series of measures being implemented in light of the national lockdown.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has warned students not to use this period of lockdown as a holiday.

Nzimande said he would be engaging with the Department of Communications and various institutions to provide e-learning guides and access to data for online learning.

“We are currently engaging with colleges as well as with our own universities and we would like to call our students to make use of this period to study as this will help us to catch up quickly with the time we have lost," he said.

The minister said the 114 students who were repatriated from Wuhan City, in China, have completed their 14-day quarantine.

“Our department will be responsible for transporting the students to their respective provinces and to ensure that they have been reunited with their families.”

Nzimande further added that while not all students accommodated at university residences have left the premises, all National Student Financial Aid Scheme-funded and registered students would receive their allowances during the 21-day lockdown.

Meanwhile at the same briefing, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said her department had made provisions for communities, which may find themselves in distress in the wake of the COVID-19

Zulu said while social grant payments would be a challenge, all beneficiaries would receive their monies between 30 March and 1 April.

The minister said accommodation and meals were being provided for the homeless but said some of them are not co-operating.

“We do want to say, on the other hand, people who live on the streets are not very easy at times; some will go to the shelters and appreciate and understand the danger but there are those who must appreciate and understand that there are those who use drugs. Some may go to the shelters but end up leaving because they are used to these things.”

In response to the impact the lockdown has had on the country's most vulnerable including children, the homeless and elderly, Zulu said an additional 1809 social workers are being recruited to assist communities.

With numerous communities in the country grappling with a lack of access to water, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said they had purchased 41,000 water tanks for vulnerable areas.

While Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the unprecedented lockdown has affected the academic calendar with the reopening of schools still unknown.

CT STARTS RELOCATING THE HOMELESS TO HOMES

The City of Cape Town said it would on Saturday start relocating the homeless to temporary shelters.

In line with the national lockdown under way, several sites have been identified to accommodate the less fortunate.
The municipality is working to provide temporary shelter in all four geographical areas in the coming days to house those living on the streets during this period.

A parking lot near the city’s Culemborg Safe Space is the first of several sites that will be used.

Here, a tent will be erected in addition to ablution facilities in line with social distancing measures.

Community services and health Mayco member Zahid Badroodien said: “The city’s law enforcement department will escort persons to the site. City health will also be onsite to screen individuals and ensure that they are not presenting symptoms of COVID-19.”

Operations are also under way at Bellville’s Paint City Site, which will be ready within the next three to five days.

The city has assured the public that it’s doing whatever it can to provide safe spaces for the homeless during this dire time.

WATCH: eThekwini's homeless unhappy with municipality’s treatment amidst lockdown

The City of Cape Town said more shelters would be provided for the homeless during the lockdown.