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Covid-19 In South Africa: Here’s How You Can Help


The first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in South Africa on 5 March – and within two weeks the government introduced a range of restrictions, from social distancing to the cancellation of events and gatherings in a bid to reduce spread.

On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown in South Africa.

These measures are potentially devastating to South Africa’s most vulnerable, as well as small businesses and freelance and part-time workers.

Meanwhile, charity organizations such as soup kitchens and school feeding schemes are facing logistical and financial complications.

Here’s how you can help others in South Africa during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

South Africa now has a solidarity fund that will try to ameliorate the impact of the novel coronavirus, and the measures put in place to slow its spread, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.

The Solidarity Response Fund will support what the public sector is doing, Ramaphosa said, without providing details of its spending priorities or how funds will be accessed.

“The fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted,” he said. 

Here are the donation details for South Africa’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

  • Bank: Standard Bank
  • Branch name: Sandton City
  • Branch code: 051001
  • Account name: Solidarity Fund
  • Account number: 023070021
  • Account type: Current account

The fund will operate a call centre for donors, between 08:00 and 18:00, on 0860 001 001 and can be emailed on info@responsefund.co.za.

The Mpumalanga education department’s flouting of procurement procedures in the awarding of a school feeding scheme has added to billions in irregular expenditure.

Food insecurity affects millions of children, and there are several feeding schemes that ensure vulnerable children receive nourishment every day. Although schools have officially closed, some remain open to welcome hungry children. 

One of South Africa’s oldest feeding schemes, ACFS, is struggling to adjust operations to continue feeding the more than 10 400 children.

“We have also been terribly impacted by coronavirus,” says ACFS Executive Director Bertha Magoge. “We’ve had to scale down considerably on our programs, and downsize significantly the number of children who can come to our center at any one time, to reduce the risk.”

They’re now trying to break the large numbers that used to stream through their doors into smaller groups – a process that’s costing the feeding scheme more money than before.

Magoge is on the ground in Soweto ensuring that as many children as possible stay fed. She says that they urgently need non-perishable food items, as well as products like soap and hand sanitizer to help improve cleanliness among the children.

Many organizations like these accept donations of products, but those who are unable to can also make cash donations to the feeding scheme of their choice. Magoge says that cash donations to ACFS would be a huge help – and they are able to process these directly through the ACFS website.

Soup kitchens play a vital role in feeding homeless people in South Africa. Most cities have several soup kitchens, and all are in need of support in the form of monetary and product donations. 

Danny Diliberto, founder of Ladles of Love, a soup kitchen based in Cape Town, is worried that financial donations will slow as the novel coronavirus impacts financially on businesses and individuals.

“Even though we’re a non-profit organization, we still need money to run, so monetary donations are vital,” says Diliberto. “But donations of perishable foods are also vital – things like canned food, maize meal, oil, and pulses like beans and lentils.”

Diliberto says that soup kitchens like his are supplying sanitation resources for their customers, and so donations of bars of soap, and small bottles of sanitizer, that homeless people can keep in a pocket, will be hugely beneficial.

There are hundreds of soup kitchens located throughout South Africa that require assistance.

Restaurants have been among the businesses hardest hit by Covid-19 shutdowns.

Statistics released by restaurant booking website Open Table showed that restaurant reservations in the United States have tanked by as much as 40 percent in recent weeks.

Under regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act, the South African government has ordered bars, shebeens, and some restaurants to close at 18:00 on weekdays, and 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays.

Several restaurants took the decision to shut down or adapt the way they do business, even before this announcement. 

Clarkes Bar and Dining Room, a restaurant in the Cape Town CBD that’s been in operation since 2011, was one of the first in the city to close voluntarily.“In an attempt to do as much as we can to try and slow the spread of Covid-19 we have decided to close up shop temporarily,” the restaurant said in a statement on Instagram.

“We hope this decision emphasizes for all the seriousness of what is happening and encourages others to do the same.”

Clarkes, like many restaurants that have shut their doors to seated patrons, has since opted to provide a delivery-only service – and restauranteurs are turning to this model as the only way to keep generating profits until Covid-19 passes.

Eat Out has also published a comprehensive list of other ways to help keep restaurants operating and staff employed, including tipping generously for takeaways, and buying vouchers for future use. 

Quitting fantasies are fun, but not realistic.10’000 Hours/Getty Images

Freelancers, and people who rely on contract work, have seen projects delayed or, in some cases, canceled altogether. Online freelance workplaces around the world are reporting differing levels of workflow changes, but none of it good.

Freelancers on South African Facebook job group, the Resource, which serves as an online job notice board, have recounted tales of clients enacting force majeure clauses in contracts, owing to Covid-19.

Workers in the film and television industry in South Africa have also been impacted, as major local and international shows wrapped ahead of the spread of the virus.

Members of The Resource have been stoic in the face of dropping contracts, though. 

Some have suggested support for freelancers could come in the form of long-term commitments from clients to continue work once business resumes some normality. 

Others have encouraged people to sell their skills and expertise via online platforms like Skillshare or Udemy. There are hundreds of courses on these platforms, many of them created by freelancers in South Africa, and freelancers earn income for every course sold.

Some who work in the gig economy are busier than ever; in the United States, grocery delivery service Instacart has seen sales increase up to 20 times more than normal in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases. Locally, Checkers announced a massive spike in online orders.

Some workers in the gig or informal employment sector, however, are less likely to see more work – a trend that could spell disaster for people like domestic workers and gardeners. 

Some, such as politician Phumzile Van Damme, have urged employers to help by allowing domestic workers and gardeners to stay home with full pay.

Please think of those who have to use crowded public transport to get to work. For where you do have responsibility, and you do for domestic workers and gardeners, I’d suggest you do not make them come to work BUT PLEASE STILL PAY THEM!!

SweepSouth, which connects cleaning staff to users via an application, says those who still wish to use their services can do so – and they’ve put measures in place to educate cleaners in best practices.

But its clients have the option to pay part of their cleaning fee if they cancel, to support the cleaners. 

Buy from small businesses – even if it is just a voucher for later use.

Many other small businesses in South Africa have been impacted by the coronavirus.

Some small businesses, like bicycle shop Rook, or plant shop Plantify, have posted social media messages saying they cannot afford to close their doors. They currently intend welcoming customers into their stores in limited numbers and are following strict sanitization protocols – but are encouraging people not to stop shopping altogether, but to rather buy online to reduce human interactions.

Even by making seemingly small online purchases, shops like these may be able to weather the storm.

Others, who offer largely in-person services, like yoga studios and hairdressers, have also closed their doors. But many, including some local yoga studios, and even Virgin Active, have taken their courses online.

And to aid cash flow, small independent service-based businesses have encouraged people to purchase vouchers; these will generate some income for now and can be claimed by the user at a more appropriate time.

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