By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), reports 10,173 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,757,191. This increase represents a 18.1% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from KwaZulu-Natal (30%), followed by Western Cape (23%). Eastern Cape accounted for 16%; Gauteng Province accounted for 8%; Free State accounted for 7%; Mpumalanga accounted for 6%; Northern Cape accounted for 5%; North West accounted for 4%; and Limpopo Province accounted for 2% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 274 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 81,461 to date.
Meanwhile KZN health MEC Nomagugu Simelane has been ordered to apologise after photographs and videos from a gathering she recently hosted made their way onto social media and caused a furore.
Simelane was caught on video celebrating her birthday without a mask and socialising with guests who were captured close to each other, singing and dancing.
Protective masks were conspicuously absent from their faces during the festivities and were even seen worn on their arms in some shots.
Simelane initially said that she has been invited to a meeting, which turned out to be a surprise birthday party.
The KZN health MEC claims that she only proceeded with celebrations after being satisfied that safety protocols were observed.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala called an impromptu media briefing on Saturday to address the scandal and revealed that Simelane had been ordered to issue a public apology within seven days of his announcement.
Zikala also confirmed that he had given Simelane an official warning in addition to instructing Provincial Treasury to dock 50% of the MEC’s salary at the next payment cycle and donate it to NGOs involved in the fight against Covid-19.
Zikala specifically called for the funds to go to such NGOs "in the District where the MEC is a Champion” like the Amajuba District Municipality.
The Premier spoke at length about the factors he considered before making this decision, including a "full report" that he had requested from the KZN health MEC following headlines about her gathering.
KZN health MEC following headlines about her gathering.
"From the report the following facts are clear," said Zikalala before repeating that the event was a surprise birthday lunch.
“The MEC also states that the event was held at a venue which was well-ventilated and which had the appropriate social distancing and, that, guests were fully aware and were regularly reminded by both the MC and the MEC to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations,” read Zikala.
According to the Premier, Simelane insists that the meeting was attended by a maximum of 36 people at a venue meant for 200 people and therefore provided enough circulation in compliance with the regulations.
#ANC #KZN Health MEC caught on camera at a party without a mask.— Narissa Subramoney (@NarissaS3) August 24, 2021
Nomagugu Simelane said she was invited to a meeting which turned out to be suprise birthday party. Simelane says she deeply regrets not wearing a mask during her short performance. @TheCitizen_News pic.twitter.com/zadDLtRNHj
KZN health MEC further argues that the pictures and video were taken while guests were consuming food.