ERA Covid-19 newsletter – No 10, 9 September 2020
Some light at the end of the tunnel?
Even though Spring Day on September 1 felt more like mid-winter, there are other reasons to be optimistic.
- 87% of those that have tested positive for Covid-19 have recovered – many of these are people we know: ourselves, family members, colleagues and friends.
- Many who get the virus are managing to treat themselves at home.
- Many people (especially young people) who test positive have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
- New daily infections are hovering around 2000 – way down from the peak of nearly 14 000 in July.
- And by Thursday September 3, the sun was out and spring was here.
Many are warning of a second wave now that restrictions have been lessened and people are allowed to socialise more, just as we are seeing in other parts of the world. In the 1918 flu epidemic the second wave in the autumn of 1918 resulted in more deaths than the first.
One hundred years later, we have many more weapons in our armoury than their potash and salt: wear a mask, practise social distancing, wash hands/alcohol spray and, and, and.
Meanwhile the department of health has just released another weapon to control the spread of the virus. They’ve developed an app – COVID Alert SA – similar to what other countries have been using, to trace those that have been in touch with Covid-positive people. The app uses Apple and Google technology and Bluetooth and once you’ve registered will notify you if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 so that you can self-isolate.
If you yourself test positive, you can safely share your test results anonymously through the app and immediately all those people that your phone has been close to will be notified so they can self-quarantine for 10 days. The app does not download any of your personal information or your contacts.
Paul Nogueira, our resident tecchie who developed the Woza app, was involved in the beta testing of this new app, has it on his phone and supports it 100%. “I encourage everyone to install it,” he says.
Find out more detail here: https://youtu.be/XBSdMcruJC0 Download from Google Play or Apple App store.
Greenside’s Go2 initiative reports “lower than anticipated need”
We were all heartened by an initiative of some Greenside doctors that was set up early in lockdown to provide backup with oxygen and medical assistance if hospitals were too full to treat Covid-19 patients. The team also includes a physiotherapist and psychologist, all of whom have other day jobs but were volunteering their services to support residents in Greenside and surrounding communities.
Months on, one of the doctors, Dr X, says that they have helped patients find hospital beds during the peak, leant oximeters and oxygen concentrators for those that could be treated at home until their medical aid could provide and advised some to go to hospital where they could be monitored more effectively. They have received numerous telephone calls just for advice.
One resident vouched for the great service on one of Emmarentia’s whatsapp groups: “I would like to express my deep gratitude to the go2 initiative as well as Rescue786 for their superb assistance this afternoon. I was diagnosed with Covid-19 and within 30 minutes they assisted me with tons of support and oxygen at home. Brave and dedicated people.”
Looking back, Dr X is thrilled that our numbers “didn’t hit the chaotic cliff” that was seen in countries like the UK and Italy. “There was one week where the hospitals seemed not to be coping”.
The low numbers of people needing assistance in the area meant that “we could lend the equipment to those that needed it in poorer surrounding areas”.
For now she says they are holding onto the equipment and will decide what happens to it post Covid.
Thank you Go2 for being so generous with your time and thanks to those that gave so generously so that equipment could be purchased.
Covid-19 batters the economy
Since the beginning of lockdown an extra 2 million people have joined the unemployed. Economist Mike Schussler predicts that the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown will push an extra one million people into the ‘absolute poverty’ group – i.e. they will be surviving on under $1,90 a day.
We’re seeing the effects – petty theft is on the increase. “Cell phones are being snatched out of hands, pockets, bags, offices and body straps from people leaving their homes, standing in queues, walking their dogs or cycling,” says Parkview CPF.
In the southern end of Botanic Gardens, Emmarentia (where Judith Road and Beyers Naude intersect) there have been at least three attacks. The Botanic Gardens has now stepped up security in the area.
While home invasions are not so frequent, they are still happening and residents should remain vigilant. Car theft of parked cars in the street is also an issue. Recently it took just three minutes for thieves to steal a Polo parked in Mazoe Road. Beware!
There is also a surge in the number of people asking for help at traffic lights, at Checkers, at the shops on Greenhill Road and wherever you travel to.
Parkview SAPS’s telephone lines are not working reliably at the moment. Residents should use the Relief Commander’s number to get hold of SAPS: 071 675-6065
What can you do to help?
Many things. And most don’t involve digging deep into your pockets.
- Keep supporting Let’s Work
Since lockdown started, the Let’s Work team managed by Felicity Gratz-Lawlor hasn’t stopped delivering food on a daily basis to neighbouring suburbs like Westbury, Brixton, Brixton informal settlement, Sophiatown and others. They source the food from supermarkets in the area and receive donations of cooked food and cash from residents. She discourages residents from giving food to those that are begging, “otherwise just now we’ll have everybody”.
The team also:
- picks up litter in the suburb and Ward 88 as a whole and does a daily walk along the spruit to make sure that people have not made it their home;
The result of one day’s cleaning in the open green spaces
- has been securing mini-sub stations in the suburb and cleaning them, many of which were inhabited by vagrants and put their lives at risk (City Power pays for the padlocks, Let’s Work pays for the chains);
Cleaning and securing the Hill Road mini-sub next to Emmarentia Primary School
- takes down illegal signs
- And the project creates work for about 15 people who were previously unemployed and living on the streets.
Right now Felicity’s biggest need is a replacement bakkie for ‘Bertha’, the old landrover that they use to transport the rubbish that the team has picked up. Bertha is long past her sell by date. Anyone with a spare bakkie they want to give away?
Please continue to give donations in cash or kind to Let’s Work and specify what you’d like the money to be used for:
#Bertha (new vehicle)
#Emmarentia (general cleaning, maintenance of the suburb)
#women’s shelter (to support the new shelter set up by Let’s Work and SCP (more below))
#food for the needy
- Give old clothes, books, games, furniture etc to the shelter for abused women and their children
One curve that has also been rising during lockdown and regrettably may not have reached its peak, is the abuse of women. Let’s Work and SCP has set up a shelter for abused women and their children and are asking for any donations of bedding, clothes, games, books, magazines, furniture (or cash – deposit in Let’s Work’s account – reference – women’s shelter).
Drop off any donations at 107 Preller Drive, Roosevelt Park between 9am – 2pm any day.
- Pick up your dog’s poo when you take them for a walk
It seems that lockdown has caused some dog owners to forget to pick up after their dogs. Let’s Work has been helping Botanic Gardens by picking up dog poo in the park and below the dam and along John MacKenzie. By picking up your after your own dog, money spent to pay the Let’s Work workers can then be spent on more useful jobs like cleaning the suburb and clearing the green spaces of litter.
- Support soup kitchens or inform the needy of them
Since lockdown, many of the religious centres that used to run soup kitchens have stopped. These are the ones we know of. If people know of others, please e-mail email@example.com so that we can add them to the list.
- Brixton soup kitchen (Let’s Work is supporting to them)
- Fietas soup kitchen. If you want to help the Fietas group (with cooking or supplying ingredients), contact Soleil on 079 041 4466
- St Francis, Tyrone Avenue, Parkview – feeding on Saturdays and Sundays at the Vuleka entrance e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to help
- Mission of Mercy feeds the needy daily from various stations in Newlands, Westbury and Newclare. It is working with COJ to try and encourage the homeless to use the shelters. During lockdown it was forced to close its Friday soup kitchen at the mosque in Emmarentia and is waiting for the greenlight to open again.
- Fountain for the Thirsty, outside Food Zone in Windsor East – Monday to Friday 4-5pm; people must bring their own containers. See here for how you can get involved: https://www.fountainforthethirsty.org/get-involved
Please help by giving these details to those that seem to be homeless.
Government shelters close by:
Of the 1964 beds available in these shelters in Johannesburg, only 757 are taken up currently. All those living there are provided with 3 meals daily plus psychological support, medical assessments and treatment for substance abuse.
The ones closest to Emmarentia are:
- Windsor, Knights Avenue (corner of Republic Road and Judges Avenue near Cresta)
- Hillbrow, 3 Kotze Street (just up from Constitution Hill and opposite The Old Fort)
Privately-run shelters close by:
These shelters rely on donations. Check out their websites if you want to support them.
MES, Smit St, Jhb R20 per night, first come first served; 1 meal per day; Gates close at 4pm, reopen 8am Website: https://mes.org.za/ (you can donate shelter and meal vouchers)
Bienvenu, 36 Terrace Road, Bertrams free (only open to women and their children, especially refugee women and children); 3 meals per day; to gain entrance, the person must e-mail email@example.com Website: http://www.bienvenushelter.org/
Frida Hartley, 97 Regent Street, Bellevue (no space at the moment) They provide a home for women and their children and help them find a job so that they can become productive and move out Website: https://www.fridahartley.org/
Sisters of Mercy, Immaculata Shelter, 17 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank (no space at the moment) Also provide showers and a meal. Website: http://sistersofmercy.ie/provinces/south-africa/
- Separate your recycling from your rubbish
We are fortunate. We are one of the suburbs that has a free service that collects our recycling every week. All we have to do is separate the plastic, the paper, the glass, the tins (preferably cleaned) from the rest of our rubbish. Every week if you put out a bag of recycling in a clear bag, you’ll get a free one to use the next week. Many residents do; many don’t.
Although many complain about the trolley pushers, they are self-employed, they don’t beg and they are responsible for recycling rates that are on a par with Europe. And they are struggling. When the petrol price plummeted early in lockdown, so too did the prices of PET (ie 2 litre coke bottles and similar). Before lockdown they were earning R4.50 per kg for PET bottles. Now they are getting R1.50 per kg. Separating your recycling from the rest of your rubbish makes their job quicker and cleaner; it reduces the amount of rubbish in your rubbish bin so that you won’t need an extra one; and it reduces the recyclables that are filling our landfills that have almost reached capacity. September is recycling month – start something new if you don’t already do it.
- Marico cellphone mast
ERA chair, Ayanda Mjekula and ERA’s planning portfolio representative, Gemey Abrahams met with lawyers acting on behalf of residents who are objecting to the proposed 15m mast that Telkom wants to erect in Marico Road. It was agreed that ERA will join the case as an interested party, bringing the details of the procedures laid down in the title deeds of all properties in Emmarentia to the case.
Meanwhile Telkom offered to settle out of court “but the condition was that [Telkom] would start again and follow the correct procedure this time,” says applicant Sarah Barret. “Obviously we couldn’t accept that so we fight on.”
We’ll keep you posted.
- Road hump on Olifants Road
We are still following up. More in the next newsletter.
- ERA considering a virtual AGM
ERA’s AGM had to be postponed in March because of Covid-19. We are investigating holding a virtual AGM on 14 October 2020. We will make a final decision on 21 September and if it is to go ahead, we will give three weeks notice to residents via e-mail and WhatsApp on 23 September.
- Botanic Gardens opens and closes
We were all excited and then disappointed that only two gates to the park were opened when restrictions were eased. Some residents engaged a lawyer to demand that it open more gates. ERA gave its support.
However City Parks responded that it was not possible because Covid-19 regulations require them to adhere to safety protocols and they don’t have enough manpower to man all gates.
When chains on the Orange Road and Louw Geldenhuys entrances were forced open by unknown people, City Parks responded by welding the gates closee. Many residents became even more angry. Adding to their frustration was that residents found that often they would enter the gates that were open, only to find that there were no security guards in sight. “Why can’t they open more gates if there’s no security there anyway?” was a common response from residents.
ERA has continued to talk with City Parks. They remain firm on their stance. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you find there is no security. Please include the date, time and at which entrance and what you found at the gate and please copy us in on email@example.com
- ERA responds to Electronic Communications Bill
On July 22 2020, government called for comments on the proposed policy on the rapid deployment of electronic communications networks and facilities in so far as it relates to accessing property to install infrastructure. Although the policy doesn’t explicitly mention Fifth Generation (5G) technology, background documents are clear that it includes 5G roll out and Wi-fi fibre networks.
ERA has submitted objections to the Bill on the grounds that it curtails and potentially violates existing private property rights and has proposed alternative ways of approaching the issue that will protect this. See here for ERA’s comments that it submitted on August 20 2020:
Emmarentia now has two boomed areas: Emmarentia Ridge which has been established for a few years with 24 hour access through Gambia Road. The new area is on Buffalo and Niger Roads.
- Parkview CPF needs new volunteers
If you would like to volunteer your services to the Parkview CPF, contact the chairperson, Geraldine Connell on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make alternative payment arrangements to avoid disconnection
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the City’s revenue collection which saw revenue drop by R2.9 billion during lockdown levels 5 and 4. As a result when Level 2 restrictions came into effect, City Power immediately announced that from August 26, it would start disconnecting those customers that have not made alternative payment arrangements to pay part of their services. (Note: you will first be issued with a pre-termination notice, followed by a disconnection notice and subsequently you will be cut-off if you haven’t made alternative payment arrangements.)
The City is offering “a reduced payment requirement when entering a payment arrangement with a 10% downpayment required. Customers will also not be subjected to affordability checks.”
If you haven’t already done so, but need to make alternative payment arrangements, e-mail email@example.com or visit Randburg Customer Service Centre, Cnr Bram Fischer Drive and Jan Smuts Avenue. (Open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm; Sat 8am-12noon). Do it now: This offer is valid until 30 September 2020.
If you have account queries – e-mail regionBrevenue@joburg.org.za or visit the Randburg Customer Service Centre. Please copy in Councillor Hensman in your e-mail to the City firstname.lastname@example.org so that he can follow up should you not receive any assistance.
- City of Joburg’s COVID rates relief
Residential ratepayers: Check your August municipal account – the City granted you a once off rates rebate of +-R480. This formed part of the R400m the City gave back to ratepayers. It represented a three-month rates rebate on the first R600 000 value of a property during the levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown period.
Business: Disaster Management relief rebate for businesses: The disaster relief rebate will apply for three months and potentially covers 48,425 property owners. The business rebate will be provided by dropping the business ratio from 2.6 to 2.3 for the three months using the 2019/2020 tariffs.
If you want to apply you must comply with the following:
- Businesses that operated through the lockdown will not be considered for the rebate.
- Your municipal account must be up to date before the declaration of the disaster; alternatively, the client should have confirmation of payment arrangement. Proof of such will be required as part of the submission for the relief.
- Provide your financials before Covid-19 and financials during Covid-19.
- All business property owners must complete the appropriate application for the disaster relief rebate.
Applications together with supporting information must be returned to the City via e-mail to: email@example.com OR handed in at the 1st floor, East Wing, 66 Jorissen Place, Braamfontein.
- How to report:
• Electricity Meter Readings – send in meter reading, account number, meter number, reading date & a pic of the reading on the meter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Customers with old meters and smart meters that are giving estimate readings are encouraged to WhatsApp or email readings. Include name of account holder, meter #, acct #, a pic of the reading, & the actual reading to email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp: 071-002-6543
• Water Meter Readings – include account number, meter reading, date of reading, clear pic of the reading and meter number (please keep it below 2mb) to email@example.com
• Huge water bill received after water leak detected on resident’s side of water meter – An Emmarentia resident got a shock when her water bill was R2000 more than usual. She’d reported a leak which was just on her side of the water meter but Jhb Water took days to reach her because of skeleton staff. The councillor advised her to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org requesting a refund based on her average usage and to include the reference number given when she reported the leak.
- Suspected illegal building – Faried Watson – 083 4502914 – FariedW@joburg.org.za please cc to email@example.com
- Suspected illegal use of a building, contravention of bylaws by property owner – Tommy Mahlobogwane 082 559 3761 – firstname.lastname@example.org (His boss Thys Pretorius 082 853 2788 thysP@joburg.org.za) please cc to email@example.com
- Potholes – Report via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wildfires in Melville Koppies/Delta Park etc: 24 hr number 011 760 9143, Phillip 0712203696, Moses 0823442407
Support your local take-away enterprises
If you want to receive this newsletter direct to your e-mail – click here: https://era.org.za/subscribe/
If you are not yet a member of ERA, just a reminder to join. Subscriptions for 2020/2021 are: R350 per annum per household (R200 for over 65s); R950 for businesses. Pay to: Emmarentia Residents Association, Nedbank; A/c: 1975051173; Branch Code: 198765; e-mail POP to: email@example.com with your surname and telephone number as your reference together with your completed membership form. Download a membership form below – https://era.org.za/join-era/