Grants for elderly, disabled to be paid earlier to counter spread of Covid-19

The elderly and people with disabilities will receive their April social grants from March 30 and March 31.Sassa will pay social grants for the month of April to the elderly and people with disabilities from March 30 and 31.

Other beneficiaries will be able to access their grants from April 1.

The earlier payment of grants for the elderly and disabled is in response to the state of national disaster announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 15 to counter the spread of coronavirus.

Among measures announced by Ramaphosa was a ban on any gathering of more than 100 people to encourage social distancing.Sassa said since Ramaphosa’s announcements, it had engaged with the relevant stakeholders — including the retail and banking sector and the consumer goods council — to determine a feasible approach to pay social grants earlier to avoid congestion at retail stores and other pay points.

“We are aware that the impact of Covid-19 will be felt much harder by the most vulnerable in society — especially the elderly, hence we have decided for earlier payments for older persons and persons with disabilities to ease congestion and overcrowding.

“I also wish to thank sectors — most importantly, the banking and retail sectors, for working with us in this regard,” social development minister Lindiwe Zulu said.

Zulu said the department would monitor all pay points, especially those in the rural areas, to ensure that payments were distributed in line with the Disaster Management Act provisions and make sure that all the necessary precautions were in place.

Zulu said for other grant recipients, additional measures would be implemented to manage numbers at all pay points.

“This is to ensure that hygiene protocols for everyone are strictly followed and social distancing is maintained,” Zulu said.

Nurse arrested for allegedly stealing face masks

A man on a bus in London is seen wearing a protective face mask, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues.A Butterworth Hospital nurse has been arrested for allegedly stealing four boxes of face masks, according to the Eastern Cape health department.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that the nurse was caught in the act and apprehended by security personnel after he attempted to flee by jumping a fence outside the hospital.

Kupelo said that the nurse would “face the full might of the law” as well as internal disciplinary processes.

“We are committed to ridding the department of all officials masquerading as health professionals and we will continue applying our human resources policies while working with law enforcement agencies to achieve this,” he said, adding that “the theft of face masks places doctors, nurses and patients at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.”

Man arrested, counterfeit cigarettes seized at SA-Botswana border post

Police seized 75 boxes of cigarettes with an estimated value of R1.25m at the Kopfontein border post on Friday evening. SAPSPolice arrested a 31-year-old suspect and seized counterfeit cigarettes with an estimated value of R1.25m at one of the country’s border posts with Botswana on Friday evening.

Police made the arrest at the Kopfontein port of entry when they stopped an Isuzu bakkie belonging to a courier company for a search.

“During the search, they discovered 75 master boxes of cigarettes with an estimated value of R1.25m,” police spokesperson Brig Sabata Mokgwabone said.

He said the driver was arrested and charged with failure to declare goods on which duty had not been paid.

“The suspect is expected to appear in the Lehurutshe magistrate’s court on Monday, March 23.”Mokgwabone said acting North West police commissioner Maj-Gen Ryno Naidoo welcomed the arrest and seizure, saying it would send a clear message that transnational crimes will not be tolerated.

Standard Bank offers relief to small and medium businesses amid Covid-19 crisis

Strandar Bank has offered its small and medium business owners a 90-day payment holiday to cope with Covid-19 challenges.Strandar Bank has offered its small and medium business owners a 90-day payment holiday to cope with Covid-19 challenges.
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai
Standard Bank has offered its small and medium business customers a three-month debt holiday during the uncertain times caused by Covid-19.

The bank said its team was dedicated to helping business with practical advice and assistance for any contingency plans.the bank said it has a range of options available to support businesses, including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Payment Scheme, which will provide payment relief to business for 90 days.

“This scheme will launch on the April 1 and strives to support small and medium-sized business with a payment holiday for 90 days.”

The bank said those eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Payment Scheme are SA businesses with a turnover of no more than R20m per year, whose business current account, Bizlaunch account and Business Lending accounts are paid up to date and their businesses are in good standing.

It said beside the payment holiday where repayments will be deferred for an agreed period, the bank can also assist with restructuring and consolidation of its customers’ debts.

Buses with tourists turned away at SA-Mozambique border

Police stopped a busload of tourists from coming to SA via Mozambique March 22 2020. File imagePolice and N4 toll officials in a joint operation detained scores of foreign travellers on three buses in Mpumalanga on Sunday.

They are believed to be Japanese nationals.

Government, as part of its clampdown in the fight against the coronavirus, has barred people from high-risk countries from entering the country.

TRAC toll concession spokesperson Solange Soares confirmed that police had requested them to stop the buses.Police received information on the buses which our officials stopped at the Machadodorp toll plaza at 11:40am.” The plaza is roughly 200km from Pretoria.

“The buses, which were travelling west, were stopped as they entered the toll lanes,” she said.

Soares said that they were informed that those on board the buses were not allowed into the country.

She said the buses had eventually turned around with those aboard escorted back to Mozambique.

The tourists’ nationality was not disclosed by Soares, but Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport said

Other banks should match Standard Bank’s business debt repayment holiday: DA

The DA has urged other banks to follow Standard Bank's decision to grant their small and medium business customers a debt repayment holiday to cope with challenges caused by Covid-19. by Standard Bank of a three-month payment holiday on all up-to-date business loans is very welcome. The DA calls on all other banks to match this relief intervention as soon as possible,” DA shadow minister of finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said.

He said the DA had called for a loan forbearance programme since the declaration of a national state of disaster. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a raft of measures last Sunday designed to curb the spread of Covid-19, including a prohibition on gatherings of more than 100 people.The DA has urged other banks to follow Standard Bank’s decision to grant their small and medium business customers a debt repayment holiday to cope with challenges caused by Covid-19.
Image: 123RF/lightwise
The DA has called on all other banks to follow Standard Bank’s example of granting small and medium business customers a three-month debt repayment holiday. These measures have seen a decline in activities of small and medium businesses.

“This business loan forbearance, if it is matched by all banks, will give much needed relief to struggling businesses and families.

“It will give our economy the breathing room it needs to survive the next few months,” Hill-Lewis said

However, Hill-Lewis said it was concerning that government had not co-ordinated a nationwide loan forbearance programme proactively, and had instead left it up to individual banks to make these announcements.

“This does not inspire confidence that the government has a firm grip on the economic disaster we face, or that they have any plan to help get our economy through this crisis.”