Unions Express Concern After Health Minister Recommends Scrapping of Face Masks
Following Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s recommendation that the wearing of face masks no longer be mandatory in indoor areas due to declining Covid-19 hospitalisation and death statistics, SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said that schools may become super spreaders of the virus. Additionally, National Teachers’ Union acting president Sibusiso Malinga expressed concern that teacher and student safety may be at risk if the mask mandate is removed. Congress of South African Students president general Thabang Mokoena questioned the timing of the policy given the arrival of winter and cautioned that the health department must consult with health experts, adding that any surge in Covid-19 infections would be due to their actions.
Power Utility Extends Blackout Period to Sunday
Eskom has warned that it will implement stage 2 load shedding this week from 10AM to 12PM until Sunday night due to a breakdown of four generation units. The power utility said in a statement: “Eskom will continue to closely monitor the system, adjust and communicate any changes as may be necessary. We appeal to all South Africans to help limit the impact of the shortages by continuing to reduce the usage of electricity and to switch off all non-essential items.” Eskom cautioned further that if a shortage of generation capacity persists, risk of load shedding will rise over the coming weeks.
Former Talent Star James Bhemgee Dies at 57
James Bhemgee, a former winner of “SA’s Got Talent” has died of a heart attack. The 57-year-old was a breakout star of the 2010 edition of the serialised talent show. He won the entire competition with a singing voice that got him discovered during his time as a street sweeper in Cape Town. Some of Bhemgee’s additional accolades include releasing his debut album “Vincero” in 2011 and performing with International Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins. In 2020 reports emerged of his alleged rape and kidnapping of a grade 10 schoolgirl. Bhemgee, along with a cousin of his alleged victim, was released on a warning, according to a report by the Daily Voice.
Parliament Defends Pay Hike for Officials
According to the national legislature, South African public representatives are not highly paid compared to their international peers. This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa approved a 3% pay hike for members of Parliament (MPs) and ministers, a move that brought an outcry from the public. Ramaphosa’s salary alone will go from U.S.$181,000 to little more than U.S.$187,000. Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo responded to the backlash saying officials were fairly paid under the Constitution based on their responsibilities and that, as an additional safeguard, MPs are barred from participating in any paid work outside of their parliamentary positions.