Connect with us


Heidedal declared COVID-19 hotspot



Staff Reporter

Heidedal in Mangaung Metro has been officially declared a coronavirus hotspot after a suspect who was supposed to be in isolation attended a funeral of someone who had died of COVID-19.

In a written response to questions from The Free Stater, provincial health department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said schools in the area are being closely monitored after it emerged that some teachers had attended the funeral.

“Heidedal has become a hotspot after a COVID-19 funeral where there was also a positive case,” said Mvambi.

“The person was supposed to be in isolation but opted to attend the funeral,” he added.

Some of the teachers who attended the funeral are believed to have contracted the acute respiratory disease and infected others resulting in family clusters spreading the disease to other parts of the area.

Mvambi said the situation had been worsened by people failing to comply with COVID-19 protocols as well as ignorance of the disease.

He said the proliferation of drugs in the area and the numerous shebeens where people share cigarettes and drinks and hardly practised social distancing posed a great danger.

“When a place is declared a hotspot we activate our screening teams,” Mvambi said.

“Currently, we are visiting hotspot areas and meeting with the leadership of the particular wards . . . to address the challenges and come up with resolutions from the stakeholders.”

Apart from heidedal, other areas in Bloemfontein that have been identified as high risk due to rapid transmission include Universitas, Rocklands, Pellissier, Bergman and Hillside View.

In Naledi, which includes the towns of Dewetsdorp, Wepener and Van Stadensrus, some of the high-risk areas are New Location, Riverside, Kanana, Metampelong, Thapelong and schools in general.

The three towns, according to Mvambi, had zero infections for the longest time since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

He said besides Mangaung Metro, there has also been a rise in daily cases in Lejweleputswa district, which covers the Goldfields area.

“Mangaung has experienced an increase in the number of daily COVID-19 infections that happened at funerals which then affect schools and households,” Mvambi said.

“Some of these are triggered by unprotected interactions in public transport such as taxis and buses. Some people put on a mask as an entry compliance measure but take it off as soon as they get in.”

Welkom, Matjhabeng municipality as well as Dealesville and Hertzogville in Tokologo municipality are said to have high mobility of persons from different parts of the country and are serving as sources of local and interprovincial transmissions.

“In Lejweleputswa district, the towns of Welkom, Hertzogville and Dealesville are the high transmitters of daily cases,” Mvambi said.

“The two towns of Dealesville and Hertzogville are interprovincial towns bordering the North West province and there’s a high mobility of people in these towns and across the border,” he pointed out.

The Free State lies at the heart of South Africa with five national key roads, namely the N1, N3, N5, N6 and N8.

It is surrounded by six other provinces: the North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape as well as the Kingdom of Lesotho.

“The travellers criss-cross the country and the Kingdom of Lesotho through the Free State province and inadvertently interact with locals through variable means such as in parties, taverns, night clubs, funerals, family gatherings, churches, schools and many other socio-economic places of interaction,” Mvambi said.

“The province has been embarking on various community engagement platforms to increase awareness about the dangers of increasing infections since we got into Level 1 of the Lockdown regulations . . .

“The department has observed that there’s indifference amongst the public towards full adherence to health advice on prevention.

“Some people use masks incorrectly, some don’t use them at all and the risk of exposure is high.”

The provincial health spokesperson said the department is also aware that there are many asymptomatic people who may unknowingly infect other unprotected people, hence it is important for everyone to put on a mask when interacting in public.

To date, the Free State has recorded 55 843 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 41 218 recoveries or 74 percent.

About 1 479 deaths have been reported in the province.


Masks no longer mandatory when outdoors



Staff Reporter

South Africans will no longer be required to wear masks while outdoors, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Tuesday night when he gave an update on national efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wearing of masks indoors however remains mandatory.

“As before, it is mandatory to wear a cloth mask or similar covering over the nose and mouth when in public indoor spaces,” said Ramaphosa in a televised address.

“However, a mask is not required when outdoors,” he added.

“This means that we still need to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxes, buses, trains or any other indoor public space.

“But we do not need to wear masks when walking on the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering.”

The president said after four waves of infection, fewer people are becoming severely ill and requiring hospitalisation.

He said there are far fewer deaths than before.

“Our scientists tell us that this is mainly because some 60 to 80 percent of the population has some form of immunity to the virus, either from previous infection or vaccination . . . we are now ready to enter a new phase in our management of the pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.

About 48 percent of all adults are believed to have received at least one vaccine dose.

Further to that, both indoor and outdoor venues can now take up to 50 percent of their capacity provided that the criteria for entrance are proof of vaccination or a COVID-19 test not older than 72 hours.

“But where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a COVID test, then the current upper limit will remain – of 1 000 people indoors and 2 000 people outdoors,” he explained.

This change to the restrictions on gatherings, according the president, will be of great benefit to the sporting, cultural, entertainment and events industries, among others.

The maximum number of people permitted at a funeral will increase from 100 to 200.

However, night vigils as well as after-funeral and ‘after-tears’ gatherings are still not allowed.

The regulations on social distancing are also being changed, requiring that a space of one metre is maintained between persons in all settings except schools.

There are also changes to the regulations on international travel.

Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours.

All unvaccinated travellers entering the country who want to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccination.

All measures are taking effect from this Wednesday.

Ramaphosa said in deciding which restrictions to ease and which to keep in place, they  also looked to the experiences of other countries, including those where the complete lifting of restrictions has been followed by a surge in infections and deaths.

Continue Reading


Man gets six life terms for raping own daughter



Staff Reporter

A 36-year-old man from Clocolan has been sentenced to six life terms by the Free State High Court after he was found guilty of raping his 14-year-old daughter.

In a statement, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Judge Pina Mathebula sentenced the father, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his daughter, for raping her six times between May and July 2021.

“The victim was staying with the accused, his wife, who is her stepmother, and two other siblings,” read part of the statement issued by NPA regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping on Thursday.

“In May 2021, the accused told his wife that his late brother told him in a dream ‘to get rid of a tokoloshe that was inside the victim’. The very same night of the alleged dream, the accused raped the victim. The last rape incident took place on 25 July 2021,” added the statement.

The court, sitting in Ladybrand, heard that the wife tried to reprimand him but he assaulted her.

As if not enough, he overpowered and raped the victim, despite her cries and his wife’s reprimands.

He threatened to kill both of them if they were to tell anyone of what he did.

A day later, the accused’s sister visited the family and the wife told her what the husband had done to the child.

The sister reported his brother to the police and he was arrested.

In aggravation, state prosecutor Advocate Moipone Moroka submitted a victim impact report facilitated by Bulelani Mothabeng in which the victim said that she thanks her aunt for coming to her rescue because if it was not for her, she would still be her father’s sex slave.

Moroka further argued that the scourge of violence against women and children has reached an alarming proportion and can be described as a pandemic.

“What aggravates the matter is that the father raped his own daughter multiple times over a period of three months and this means he had ample opportunity to reflect on his actions, but he continued betraying the trust his daughter had in him,” said Moroka.

The father was sentenced to six life sentences for rape and two years for assault and the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Continue Reading


Premier mourns journalist



Staff Reporter

Premier Sisi Ntombela has described the late SABC journalist Thabo Katsande as a disciplined, dedicated and hardworking man.

She said this in her special tribute to Katsande, who was based in Bloemfontein, during a memorial service held at the Rose Hall at the Mangaung Metropolitan offices on Thursday.

The journalist passed away at a Pretoria hospital last Saturday following a short illness.

“The Thabo I knew was focused on his work,” said an emotional Ntombela.

“The Thabo I knew was passionate about his trade and wanted to see journalism, particularly in the Free State, grow in leaps and bounds,” she added.

The premier took the opportunity to urge people to value their work and strive to improve their communities as the province is faced with a high unemployment rate.

“We live in an era where some people do not value their jobs . . . and a sense of entitlement has consumed them. Thabo’s work ethic was admirable,” she pointed out.

Ntombela described Katsande as a fearless and fair journalist who showed both the good and the bad through his work.

“Through his work, Thabo helped us to tell . . . the Free State story,” she said.

“He captured the minds of the people with the way he told our stories, the good and the bad.

“The beautiful and the not so beautiful – Thabo told it all, without fear or favour.

“The media fraternity has lost a giant and . . . it will be poorer without him.

“No longer shall we see that charismatic man running around with a camera looking for that perfect shot.”

Katsande will be laid to rest in Bluemgumbosch, eastern Free State, this Saturday.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2021. The Free Stater. All Rights Reserved