Neighbourly Notes – 11 June 2020

VISORS DOWN AND AT THE READY: Port Alfred High School Early Childhood Development teachers, from left, Melissa Tweedie, Sunelle le Roux and Melissa du Randt were on hand on Monday to welcome the Grade 12 and 7 classes back to campus and to assist where required. All health and safety protocols are in place and being followed by staff to ensure that that the risk of infection is kept at a minimum

DAY 77 of the national lockdown in South Africa, 11 weeks spanning the end of March to the middle of June have emphasised the differentials between those with and those without. Many have lost all or some of their income and some will have no jobs to return to when the lockdown is lifted. In car parks and other areas people are begging for food. But throughout Ndlambe, generous people have donated thousands of food parcels to feeding schemes organised by volunteers. Not surprisingly, housebreakings and other crimes have proliferated since the lockdown began. The release of over 40,000 convicted criminals into the general public has exacerbated the problem. Social media groups report crimes on an almost hourly basis and police and private security have a job on their hands to catch criminals and investigate crimes.

THE killing of African American George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota has sparked worldwide anger and inspired protests in many countries, including SA. Irrespective of whether Floyd was a criminal, as has been used by some in mitigation of the officer’s actions, there can be no doubt that he should not have died in that way. The videos taken by members of the public and on CCTV show he was not resisting arrest. The officer involved has been fired and he and his colleagues are under criminal investigation. The courts still have to hear the case, but the incident has once more ignited the Black Lives Matter movement and their cause against police brutality. There have been widespread calls for police forces to be defunded and dismantled. The killing of Collins Khosa, attributed to members of the SANDF during lockdown, has also been belatedly tagged onto the cause in SA. We must be wary of political agitators taking dvantage of such situations and attempting to incite anger to bolster their own agndas.

GRADES 7 and 12 pupils were allowed to return to schools this week to continue with their most important academic years. While some schools complain of inadequate PPEs (personal protective equipment), other schools still do not have running water or adequate sanitation facilities, and this is particularly obvious in the Eastern Cape. After 26 years of democracy in SA, this exemplifies a general failure of government to alleviate poverty and cater for the needs of the poorer members of society as well as our children’s education. Fixing problems now is a quarter of a century too late. Another question is whether level 3 lockdown regulations can be maintained in schools. Can children be expected to sit all day wearing face masks? Can teachers keep children separated when they are out in the schoolyard? Is it healthy for children to grow up in an environment of bleach and alcohol that will, in time, compromise their immune systems? We are only just realising the importance of the viruses and bacteria in and on our bodies; communities of microbes that keep us healthy but can also cause sickness and death. These communities, termed our microbiome, are essential to our wellbeing. Part of this microbiome is our virome, the community of viruses that exist on and in our bodies, and number in the trillions; far more than the number of bacteria or “human” cells. We should be careful and hygienic but we also have to cognisant of potential longer-term problems that may occur in the future due to excessive bleaching and sanitising agents.

AFTER so many accidents and criminal acts since June 1 when the liquor ban was lifted, it is clear that the availability of alcohol has a negative effect on society, with violent crimes including murders, road accidents and abuse cases escalating dramatically. Lifting the restriction on the sale of cigarettes would have no such consequences so its continued ban seems unjustifiable. More than this, cigarettes are still being sold in South Africa but at prices that are almost inconceivable, a carton of “cheap cigarettes” on the black market can cost upwards of R2,000 (200 per packet of 20, or R100 for a single cigarette). It is well past time for the ban on the sale of tobacco products to be lifted. Added to this, the government is losing all its normal revenue from their sale, and this will lead to a shortcoming in the South African fiscus that will need to be recovered in taxes in the future.

CONGRATULATIONS and every good wish to everyone having and hopefully enjoying a happy birthday in the week ahead, especially Dawie van Wyk, Mel Bradfield, Dave Rodgerson, Peter Kilian, Popeye Steyn, Diana Tarr, Bee Tarr, Gail Holforty, Kaelene Steyn, Denise Drew, Cheryl Coates, Anne Williams, Terry Illingworth, Pat Holford, Valencia Jacobs, Benjemi Barnard, Liza Opperman, Basil Were, Betty Bremmer, Hilary Smith, Tanya Schenk, Annette Laas, Annelize Lloyd, Joan Buckley, Shane le Roux, Fuzeka Runeli, Chris Carter, Norma Terry, Amanda Ludick, Cindy Katz.

BUSINESS anniversary congratulations with even more success in the year ahead to Guido’s, Port Alfred Country Club, Mike’s Driving School and Port Alfred High School’s Founders Day.

THE price of crude oil plummeted at the start of the Covid-19 to below $20 per barrel. With the Rand depreciating to R19 to the dollar the cost per barrel went as low as R380. But, now with the exchange rate returning to previous levels and Brent Crude oil also on the rise, at today’s rates a barrel will cost R658, almost twice the price. This is the reason fuel prices are being increased and they are likely to increase again before they stabilise closer to pre-pandemic levels. At the time of going to press and with last year’s figures in brackets to compare against, the rand was trading at R16.72 to the dollar (R14.69), R21.19 to the pound (R18.72) and R18.92 to the euro (R16.67). Gold is trading at $1,713.83 per fine ounce ($1,337.36), platinum at $766.54 per ounce ($736.46) and Brent crude oil at $39.34 per barrel ($61.33).

SPECIAL thoughts and prayers are with all those folk who are not well, having or have already had tests, operations and treatments. Sterkte Roy Potter, Andrew de Vries, Emilene Bruwer, Jenny Groenewald, Olof Ferreira, Jan Haig and Lyn Charter.

ON a personal note, a friend of mine died recently, and I would like to express my sympathy and condolences to his family. Godspeed Theo Kleynhans, and see you on the other side of time.

WEDDING anniversary congratulations to all couples enjoying such an occasion, especially Ken and Catherine Reynolds, Bradley and Kathryn Fick, Reay and Dee Squires.

THOUGHT for the week: “Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom”.

BEST regards as always,
The Team

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