27 April – 1 May 2020
“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
Former President Nelson Mandela
On 23 April, President Ramaphosa announced the easing of lockdown regulations beginning 1 May 2020. Until that time, SECTION27 staff will continue to work remotely.
Our advice desk will only conduct telephonic consultations. The numbers to call or Whatsapp are 060 754 0751 or 067 419 6841.
The public interest organisations legal support hotline continues to be available to the public to contact regarding rights violations: 066 076 8845.
For more information about coronavirus visit https://sacoronavirus.co.za/.
Emergency Hotline: 0800 029 999. WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456.
10-year Anniversary Webinar
In celebration of SECTION27’s ten-year anniversary, we are hosting an online event on what we can learn from our history of social justice in order to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The week that was
SECTION27 contributed to the C19 people’s coalition with a range of infographics, covering a range of topics, including the symptoms, prevention strategies and demands of quarantine for COVID-19, as well as safety guidelines for various essential businesses.
Community Healthcare Workers (CHW) “are going to be critical to South Africa’s response to COVID-19,” write Head of Communications at SECTION27 Nontsikelelo Mpulo and Tendai Mafuma, a legal researcher in SECTION27’s Health Rights Programme. But CHWs do not have access to adequate personal protective equipment, may not have been trained for COVID-19 tracing work, and will need support from provincial and national government alike. Learn more about issues with the plan to mobilise 28,000 CHWs here:
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights during lockdown
We received a circular from the Gauteng Department of Health in response to a letter we sent to the Minister and MECs about continued access to SRHR services during lockdown. The team has also been helping a number of women to access abortion services in the past week and to access other needed health services.
Continuing in our work against Gender-based violence, Field Researcher Patrick Mdletshe helped a woman whose sexual assault case was dropped by the prosecutor and then thrown out of court after the docket was “lost” to have the case taken up again.
SECTION27 researcher Thuthukile Mbatha and legal researcher Tendai Mafuma unpack what the national lockdown mean for critical sexual and reproductive health rights and services, which, according to the authors “cannot be disrupted – firstly because young women and girls will suffer direct harm, but also because doing so would result in major health setbacks that the country can ill afford.” Read it here:
All of the SECTION27 field researchers have been involved with identifying families who need food parcels and with helping people who are struggling to get service from the Department of Social Development.
Communications team members Nontsikelelo Mpulo and Julia Chaskalson participated in a call organised by the National Education Collaboration Trust with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). Mpulo and Chaskalson raised concerns to the minister and director general about the dominance of online learning during lockdown, the need for print materials, queries about personal protective equipment for learners and staff when schools resume and queries about conditional grants for education. We await detailed responses from the DBE.
Legal researcher Motheo Brodie furthered our advocacy on curriculum delivery during lockdown by conducting work with the media.
The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education finally releases a draft scholar-transport policy!
SECTION27, represented the Siphilisa Isizwe which was admitted as a friend of the court (amicus curiae) in the case brought by Equal Education on behalf of three schools in Nquthu. We brought evidence detailing the importance for the provincial policy to ensure adequate planning and provision of scholar transport for learners with disabilities.
SECTION27 legal researcher Motheo Brodie, along with partners from Equal Education and Equal Education Law Centre, reflect on the Department of Basic Education’s plans for curriculum delivery during the #covid19 related lockdown in South Africa. They urge the government to make its educational interventions more equitable, accessible and inclusive. Read it here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-04-21-learning-in-the-time-of-covid-19-equitable-support-during-school-closures-desperately-needed/?fbclid=IwAR1kBdkmiLp3r2GehfqC-snS3PBoY6TBcLfd6jGAF32oLQjFkXBv2HDdM6U
UPDATED RESOURCE MAP | LEARNING IN LOCKDOWN: Online, broadcast and radio educational resource map
We continue to research curriculum materials for continued learning during lockdown. In the absence of a centralised platform for learning during the lockdown, SECTION27’s education rights team developed a ‘Resource Map’ for educational materials during the lockdown. The page on our website, accessible here, lists materials that are available online (and which of them are zero-rated) as well as listing schedules for broadcast and radio lessons. We have updated this for the upcoming week, with new sites listed and updated broadcast and radio schedules.
COVID-19: The time for procrastination over patents is over
“The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired an unprecedented global effort to research, develop, and obtain regulatory approval for vitally-needed diagnostic tests, medicines, vaccines, medical devices and other health products. However, at the same time… pharmaceutical companies and medical devices companies are racing to patent offices around the world to secure monopoly protections on products developed with substantial public funding.”
Patent laws are a public health concern, now more than ever. Read more:
COVID-19: Why is SA not testing more?
The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) claims to be able to do 15,000 tests a day, and aims to increase that capacity to 36,000 tests per day by the end of April. But currently, South Africa is conducting between 3,000-5,000 per tests a day. Why the mismatch between capacity and actual output of tests? Spotlight NSP investigates SA’s efforts to scale up testing capacity here:
COVID-19: All you need to know about the flu
Spotlight interviewed Shabir Madhi, a Professor in Vaccinology, who notes that “even without annual flu, our healthcare systems are going to be split beyond capacity when we get an upsurge in COVID-19 cases.. irrespective of how much we’re planning to delay the epidemic.” Prof. Shabir Madhi explains the implications of flu in the fight against #COVID19 in the link below.
COVID-19: Concerns mount over plans to protect prisoners
Elri Voigt writes on the department of Justice and Correctional services’ response to COVID-19, and the need to protect prisoners from infection:
COVID-19: Some homeless people choose streets over shelters
Amy Green investigates why some homeless people are choosing not to stay in the government provided shelters for the duration of lockdown. Accounts of police brutality, overcrowding and lack of understanding from state officials characterise the government’s response to homeless people. Read more here:
COVID-19: The Pros and Cons of high-speed science
“Warning bells are ringing however about the poor quality of some scientific research in these pressurised times.”
While Covid-19 is on everyone’s lips, and is the subject of vast amounts of medical research, sometimes all the talk is just that – talk: science that is unverified, not peer-reviewed and methodologically sloppy. Read about it all, from Adele Baleta, here:
COVID-19: Is SA’s testing criteria too restrictive?
Currently, only people with two of the respiratory symptoms of #Covid_19 are eligible for testing. Does this undermine efforts to curb the spread of the virus in SA? Read more from Amy Green and Spotlight to find out.