Legal duo gives free advice as Covid-19 makes us ‘face death in a very real way

Pop.law is a platform focused on making SA law more accessible to people at an affordable cost.As the coronavirus pandemic gripped SA, lawyer Sinal Govender and venture designer Claire Keet Pollock realised that many people would be faced with the scary reality of death and sickness.

So they shifted the focus of their company, Pop Law, to highlight the often tricky administration that comes with death — admin that many people don’t know how to get their heads around.This pandemic is forcing us to face sickness and death in a very real way, for many this means having to get their ducks in a row quickly, and that is expensive”, said Govender.

On Friday, minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize announced SA’s first coronavirus fatalities — two women from the Western Cape.

Pop Law is a platform that aims to make the law more accessible to a greater number of people. As a starting point the platform focuses on legal documents that relate to death.

The “COVERED-19″ legal pack is made of a living will, a last will and testament, a digital executorship document and a power of attorney document. They have made the documents available for free, and are offering advice through their social media platforms.

“We wanted to offer a legal pack for free for a while to try to alleviate some of the pressure for those who can’t afford to spend thousands of rand on legal fees at the moment,” said Govender.For the duo, this business decision was sparked by the realisation that there is a huge percentage of South Africans who do not have access to basic legal help on universal issues like death.

Govender says that as the only lawyer in her family, everyone looked to her after her mother died to sort out everything. She focused so much of her energy on legal administration that by the time she was grieving, her support system had moved past it.

“If I can allow even one person to avoid the process I went through, that will be a win for me,” she said.

The idea behind the free pack is to encourage people to use the legal documents to be proactive in the administrative challenges that may come with death.

In 2017, after losing her mother to cancer, she made a decision to move away from corporate law and focus on the social justice element of making people aware of the law.“For the both us, we have the same view that this is necessary to talk about because it’s the one inevitable fact of life”, she said.

With this platform, they have set out on a mission to provide 10,000 South Africans with free legal documents for the next 10 days. They then plan to offer an affordable legal document model and legal online consultations.

In addition to this pandemic they intend on using this platform as a means of tackling the misinformation that is being spread.

“We are all facing an infodemic, we want to provide necessary but appropriate information to everyone”, she said.

Durban hospital dismisses claims it’s building isolation wards in parking lot

Triage facilities are being set up in a parking lot at Netcare's uMhlanga Hospital in Durban. The group denies that these are isolation wards for Covid-19 patients.Triage facilities are being set up in a parking lot at Netcare’s uMhlanga Hospital in Durban. The group denies that these are isolation wards for Covid-19 patients.
Image: Orrin Singh
Netcare on Friday denied claims that its uMhlanga facility had been constructing isolation wards in the hospital’s parking lot.

Mande Toubkin, general manager of emergency and trauma at Netcare, which is South Africa’s largest hospital network, said construction was taking place at many of its hospitals across the country, but this was in no way intended for the isolation of patients.

“As part of Netcare’s national disaster management plan, all Netcare hospitals are setting up dedicated facilities outside their emergency departments, mostly in tents, where all persons coming to the emergency departments will first be triaged to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading to or from our hospitals.”

He said at Netcare’s uMhlanga Hospital, the triage facility was being set up in a dedicated hospital parking area.

Toubkin said visiting hours at the hospitals have been suspended, except in specific special circumstances.

ACDP leader Rev Kenneth Meshoe and MP Steve Swart have Covid-19

Kenneth Meshoe displays no symptoms and remains in good health despite testing positive for Covid-19.Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, has tested positive for Covid-19.

And so has Steve Swart, the party’s chief whip in the National Assembly.

This was revealed by the party’s deputy president, Wayne Thring, on Friday, just days after the ACDP had announced that Meshoe was in self-imposed isolation having shared close space with people who later had tested positive for Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

Meshoe and Swart had attended a prayer breakfast at the Divine Restoration Ministries in Ribblesdale, Bloemfontein, on March 10 and 11. The prayer breakfast took place before the 100 people gathering limit was imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 15.

Several other people who were part of the church gathering have since tested positive for Covid-19.It’s been previously reported that five visitors at the breakfast, two from the US, two from Israel and one from France, started to feel unwell on the weekend of March 14 and were tested for the coronavirus. They later tested positive.The ACDP president was informed about the results of the visitors’ tests only on March 20,” said Thring.

“He immediately went into self-containment and made himself available for testing, where he was tested by the health department on Sunday, March 22,” he added.

In Swarts’ case, he got tested on March 23 after having “mild flu-like symptoms”.

Thring said that despite testing positive for Covid-19, Meshoe displays no symptoms and remains in good health. Swart is also recovering well.

Both have been self-isolating.

On Thursday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said two people had died from Covid-19 in SA, both of them in the Western Cape. There had been more than 1,000 positive cases recorded in the country.Thring decried the five-day waiting period before Meshoe got his results, saying this had placed unnecessary stress on him and his family, and had also resulted in unwarranted speculation in the media.

He also expressed regret with regards to media houses who reported that the two MPs had tested even before they were tested.

“This contradicts the media ethics code and caused much trauma to their families and colleagues. The press has the responsibility to disseminate information that is true, factual and accurate,” said Thring.

Thring revealed that Ramaphosa has been in touch with Meshoe and has given support to the Meshoe family during this time.

The presidency announced on Thursday that Ramaphosa had tested negative for the deadly virus.

SA’s 40km Zimbabwe border fence goes ahead despite lockdown

Work has started alongside the Beitbridge border post with construction teams building the 1.8m-high fence which will span 20km on each side of the border post between SA from Zimbabwe.Work has started alongside the Beitbridge border post with construction teams building the 1.8m-high fence which will span 20km on each side of the border post between SA from Zimbabwe.
Image: Supplied.
Construction of the new 40km fence at the Beitbridge border post is going ahead despite the 21-day national lockdown which began on Friday.

The fence, announced by public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille just over a week ago, was to keep foreign nationals out of the country in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus into SA.

“This is to ensure no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice- versa, in line with one of the measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa’s borders and ports are to be secured with immediate effect,” said De Lille.

The fence will cost just over R37m.

De Lille said the 1.8m-high fence would span 20km on each side of the border post separating SA from Zimbabwe.De Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, said on Friday construction was going ahead during the lockdown.

“Yes, construction is continuing. The contractor received a permit from the department of trade and industry to continue work on the project,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson said that at this stage, all the contractor’s resources and plant had been mobilised on site.

“The drilling of holes to install the fence line posts has commenced along with clearing and grubbing to clear the path line for installation of the fence.

“The contractor has divided the work among eight teams who are each responsible for 5km of the 40km of work, where we are repairing and replacing the fence,” Nicholson said.

Ramaphosa announced on Sunday night that 35 of the 53 land-entry points would be closed.

De Lille said this measure would, however, not be effective if the fences at the border were not secure. In many places they were not.

She invoked the Disaster Management Act for emergency procurement procedures in relation to the erection and repairs of the border fences east and west of the Beitbridge border post.

SA Covid-19 cases rise to 1,170

There are now 1,170 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in SA, government said on Friday evening.There are now 1,170 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in SA, government said on Friday evening.
Image: GALLO IMAGES/AFP/BERND THISSEN
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in SA has increased to 1,170.

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said on Friday evening that health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize had asked him to relay the figure.

Earlier on Friday it was announced that two people had died as a result of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

However, Mthembu clarified that one of the deaths was confirmed to be linked to Covid-19. The second case, he said, was linked to Covid-19 but had not yet been confirmed.

He said Mkhize would explain exactly what this meant, medically, in due course.

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