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COVID-19 quick insights from 22 April

SA sees a big jump in coronavirus infections, with 170 more people testing positive. Two more people have also died. Police Minister Bheki Cele says crime has dropped dramatically and the Western Cape sees spike in looting of stores.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - SA sees a big jump in coronavirus infections, with 170 more people testing positive. Two more people have also died. Police Minister Bheki Cele says crime has dropped dramatically and the Western Cape sees spike in looting of stores.

DAY 27 OF LOCKDOWN

BY THE NUMBERS

• A jump of 170 infections in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 3,635.

• Sadly, 7 more deaths recorded – 5 in the Western Cape and 2 in KZN, bringing the total to 65.

• 133,774 patients have been tested so far.

• 6,868 tests done in the last 24 hours – that number has been rising steadily, but fairly slowly.

• More than 2.6 million people have caught the virus across the world; it’s killed more than 180,000 but more than 700,000 are listed as recovered.

CRIME? WHAT CRIME?

• Police Minister Bheki Cele’s team has compared crime stats from the month of lockdown to the same month last year and came up with some staggering declines in crime.

• Murder down by 72%; reported rape by 87%; attempted murder by 65%; Assault GBH by 85% and robbery with aggravating circumstances by 69%; carjacking down by 80% and residential robberies down by 53%.

• Cele also touts a radical decrease in domestic violence – with a 69% decline in those numbers. But be very careful about this – as most NGOs working in the space believe the lockdown could actually be a disincentive to reporting such crimes – with movement restricted, those subjected to violence in the home have nowhere to run and find it more difficult to escape and more difficult to access help from outside that will allow them to seek refuge.

• Cele also announced by the end of the initial lockdown, they had charged 118,000 people for transgressing regulation.

• One of those is Cele’s Cabinet colleague, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who paid a R1,000 admission of guilt fine for her lockdown transgression that saw her grabbing lunch with her former colleague Mduduzi Manana and his family. She also got suspended for two months and had one month’s pay docked.

WATCH: COVID-19 Situation Desk - 22 April 2020 PM

SAPS AND SANDF TRANSGRESSIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS

• Among those arrested are the very people tasked with upholding the law – dozens of SAPS members now facing a variety of charges including bribery, corruption and breaking lockdown regulations. There’s even one case in the Western Cape where cops staged a break-in at a liquor store to stock up on booze.

• The Military Ombud has received 20 complaints from members of the public since lockdown.

• To give some perspective on those numbers: pre lockdown the ombud’s office was dealing with around 30 complaints a month – most of them from members or past members of the SANDF. And since the inception of the military ombud 8 years ago, they have only dealt with 177 complaints from members of the public and only 23 of those were about the conduct of the SANDF.

• So 20 lockdown complaints from the lockdown is quite a high number.

• Some of the complaints were just video clips – without any kind of information about where they happened, what date they happened on, whether there were witnesses etc. In those cases, they have to go back to ask those people who forwarded the videos to get more information.

• 5 of these complaints were submitted anonymously – so they have no way to do any kind of preliminary investigation.

• So, regarding the 15 that they are able to investigate, they are still at the initial stages of the investigations.

• Ombud also noted they have received 3 letters from public commending actions of SANDF.

FOOD WARS AND LOOTING

• Protests over food delivery in Mitchells Plain on Wednesday.

• Another apparent attempt at looting, with people attempting to storm the Westgate Mall in Mitchells Plain.

• And a shop on Halt Road was also looted.

• The president on Tuesday acknowledged they have to do better in terms of getting food to those who need it and can’t survive without help under lockdown.

• And the Western Cape government is trying to map food relief projects to see where the gaps are and plug them – the premier is expecting a report from his team on this on Friday.

MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS OVER SOCIAL AID PLANS

• Among Tuesday night’s announcements from the president was a suggestion that Sassa had some kind of technological solution to help the most vulnerable access food vouchers or cash transfers; a promise to deliver 250,000 food parcels across the country in the coming week; and a special R350 a month grant for those who have no other access to grants and are unemployed.

• But given the obvious inefficiencies in providing food relief and Sassa’s long history of issues, how is government going to make sure all this actually reaches those in need?

• On the COVID-19 grant (the R350/month), there’s really no plan – they acknowledge they need to work some kind of metric to decide who qualifies for the grant and ensure there’s no double-dipping. Expect details on this on Friday when the social and economic clusters are expected to brief.

• On food parcels, they’re talking about expanding the current systems they have in place to deliver them but whether the current systems actually work is questionable.

GLOBALLY

• The World Health Organisation head has appealed to the US to reconsider its decision to withdraw funding, warning the virus will be with us “for a long time”.

• The UK’s top medic is warning social distancing will be the new normal for at least the next calendar year.

• Speaking of the new normal - the House of Commons pulled off its first Zoom meeting – and it was pretty much flawless.

• Businesses around the world are looking to their governments to help keep them afloat during lockdowns and the general fallout from COVID-19 and in Peru, coca farmers want government’s help too. Prices for coca leaves (used to make cocaine) sold to drug gangs apparently slumped by 70% when Peru went into lockdown.

• And love in the time of COVID-19 – it is possible – a story from Columbia about a pair who met in a COVID-19 shelter, fell in love, and have just gotten married in the same shelter. I guess when you know, you just know.