South Africa: Today's latest news and headlines, Thursday 30 July

Stay up to date with the latest news in South Africa by reviewing the day's main headlines on Thursday 30 July.

As South Africans continue to count the cost of corruption, suspensions and threats of harsh legal recourse make waves across all governmental departments. Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) takes the battle to keep schools open to court.


Diko denies any wrongdoing in PPE tender scandal

Khusela Diko, who took a sudden leave of absence from her role as presidential spokesperson earlier this week, has responded to the damning allegations of corruption and nepotism in relation to a controversial government tender process.

Diko, who stepped aside mere days after President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to crack down on corruption which impacted coronavirus relief efforts, has been at the centre of controversy after it emerged that her husband, King Madzikane II, had allegedly scored a R125 million contract to supply the Gauteng Department of Health with personal protective equipment (PPE).

As calls mount for heads to roll, Diko and her husband issued a joint statement on Wednesday afternoon, wherein the pair denied any wrongdoing and vehemently opposed allegations of corruption. While Diko admitted that her husband's alleged involvement reopened wounds of "cronyism" which resulted in mistrust, the spokesperson reiterated that the contract had been cancelled to avoid a conflict of interest.

The latest statement comes amid high-level meetings between African National Congress (ANC) leaders who have been summoned to debate the dubious PPE contract. Calls for Health MEC Bandile Masuku to be sacked, due to his close personal relationship with the Diko's, have intensified. Masuku, like Diko, has denied any wrongdoing.

DA seeks to have school closures ruled as unlawful, unconstitutional

Adding to a long list of legal challenges aimed at overturning government's controversial lockdown laws, South Africa's official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has called on the North Gauteng High Court to declare the closing of schools unlawful, unconstitutional and not binding.

This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that classrooms would be closed amid a burgeoning coronavirus caseload, with the school calendar set to be further delayed by a month.

The DA, which argues that Ramaphosa's announcement has not yet been gazetted, filed a papers with the High Court on Wednesday. In a joint statement, Belinda Bozzoli, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, and Nomsa Marchesi, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, elaborated on irregularity, noting:

"The DA is therefore of the view that the announcement has no legal effect and that schools should therefore technically not have closed as there is no legal requirement for them to do so.
The truth is that the word of the President is not law, the law is the law."

Human Rights Commission inspects Gauteng field hospital

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) will, today, inspect Nasrec in Johannesburg which was recently transformed into a field hospital in preparation for the coronavirus' peak. The inspection comes amid a sudden surge in South Africa's coronavirus epicentre, with Gauteng accounting for more than 35% of the national caseload.

The SAHRC is expected to convene with officials for the health department during the inspection, which seeks to ascertain the facilities state of preparedness as Gauteng anticipates to reach its peak in August.

'Toxic fumes' plague Pietermaritzburg residents

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy has welcomed the deployment of a team of Working on Fire firefighters and management to fight the New England Road Landfill Site fire in Pietermaritzburg.

"The team of firefighters and management have been working tirelessly since their deployment on 21 July to support the Mgungundlovu Disaster Management Centre to extinguish the fire that flared up again last week," Minister Creecy said.

A total of 78 firefighters and management and 10 support vehicles from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries' Working on Fire (WoF) programme in KwaZulu-Natal have been deployed to the New England Road site in Pietermaritzburg.

An Incident Command Centre has been established which includes the Working on Fire team, provincial Fire Protection Associations and Disaster Management Centre, Msunduzi Fire, Mgungundlovu District Fire and the eThekwini Metro Fire Department.

"Through the joint effort, we hope that the fire is brought under control, and extinguished, as soon as possible," said the Minister. (Source: SAnews)


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