Saul welcomes mining company’s Covid-19 initiatives
NORTHERN Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul has welcomed the initiatives launched by Anglo American’s Kumba Iron Ore to support its employees and host communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that these “will go a long way”’ to help the provincial government contain the pandemic.
Saul and members of the Northern Cape provincial government were among a delegation to visit Tsantsabane communities last week to distribute food parcels to needy households and get a firsthand view of some of the response plans being put in place in partnership with Kumba.
The delegation included the MEC for Social Development, Barbara Bartlett, the MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Abraham Vosloo, the executive mayor of ZF Mgcawu District Municipality, Gift van Staden, and the mayor of Tsantsabane Municipality, Mpho Mashila. The premier and his delegation were accompanied by Kumba CEO Themba Mkhwanazi and Vusani Malie, the CEO of the Sishen Iron Ore Company-community Development Trust.
“Kumba is part of an ecosystem, and we have adopted a holistic approach in our response that ensures healthy, safe employees and safe communities. Collaborating with the premier and relevant provincial departments will ensure prevention, treatment and recovery, with increased access to health care services that are crucial in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic,” Mkhwanazi said.
Kumba’s community initiatives are part of the company’s Community Response Plan (CRP), called Wecare, to ensure the health and well-being of its employees and host communities. These initiatives include the provision of water to some informal settlements around its mines and relief food parcels. In addition, increasing access to health care through making the UGM Wellness clinic in Kathu available for screening and testing for employees and the surrounding communities; and increasing screening, testing, bed capacity and overflow tent structures at Postmasburg District Hospital to deal with any Covid-19 cases.
Mkhwanazi added that working with the Department of Health, the company had also identified quarantine and isolation facilities that would serve the greater Tsantsabane and Gamagara municipal areas. “Testing, quarantine and isolation medical and other personnel will also be allocated to the facilities.”
While off Port Elizabeth, the vessels requested permission to shelter in Algoa Bay from adverse weather conditions. The request was approved by the South African Maritime Safety Authority. After departing Algoa Bay, the vessels sailed up the coast and left South African waters late on April 19 and early on the morning of April 20. There was no evidence of illegal activity while in South African waters, the department said.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact the environmental crimes and incidents 24hour hotline on 0800 205 005 to report any illegal environmental activities, including suspicious activity along the coastline, the department said in the statement.
Critical personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, gloves, disposable gowns, thermometers and screening have been distributed to the Kuruman and Postmasburg hospitals.
“Kumba acquired the first Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing machine which can be used remotely to test and release results in 24 hours without going to a laboratory. We plan to set up these laboratories to support this PCR machine,” said Mkhwanazi.
He added that the company anticipated acquiring rapid test kits by the end of April which will enable testing with a much quicker turnaround time.
“Kumba also donated eight infrared thermo scanners to Tsantsabane and John Taolo Gaetsewe municipalities to assist the health care and the South African Police Service with testing, thus enabling quick mass screening. Kumba is now working with the Department of Health to train volunteers as tracers and screeners as part of the mass screening programme.”
The company also ordered medical equipment including ventilators, respirators, blood gas masks and hospital beds to prepare hospitals in the Province for ICU and high-care patients. It will also avail emergency services and mental health care services to communities through FAMSA, LOVELIFE and TADS.
“Kumba is part of the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) working with various stakeholders including the Tsantsabane Local Municipality, local government, local businesses, the South African Police Service, Community Policing Forums, the South African National Defence Force as well as the provincial Health Department during the Covid-19 lockdown to respond to community needs.”