South Africans shine during lockdown

Shout4Masks initiative aims to raise money to buy masks directly from the factories to avoid profiteering go-betweens.
Shout4Masks initiative aims to raise money to buy masks directly from the factories to avoid profiteering go-betweens.

For most people, the national lockdown has been a time of anxiety. But amid the chaos, South Africans have proven to be remarkably compassionate and united. Grethe Kemp rounds up a few of the good news stories that have come out of the crisis

UJ library makerspace print 3D masks

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Library Makerspace team has joined the efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic by developing vital protective material.

Makerspace began using 3-D printing to produce surgical face shields in an effort to meet the rapidly growing need for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis.

So far, 10 shields have been distributed to various campus clinics at the university, with another 15 set to be delivered to Netcare911, according to UJ Makerspace expert Rudie Strauss.

“Makerspaces are places where you can do prototyping and small-batch production very rapidly and inexpensively,” explained Strauss.

He said although the shields were not made to medical standards, they could be printed on demand for use until better options are available.

It’s a timely intervention as suppliers are scrambling to secure essential equipment such as ventilators, masks, gloves, respirators and sanitisers.

Hospitality venues open their beds to medical workers

A new initiative called Ubuntu Beds is linking hospitality businesses that now stand empty with healthcare workers who are fighting the virus on the front line.

Says the organisation: “By connecting healthcare workers with accommodation, we can ensure they won’t need to travel long distances home to their families, that they’ll be able to rest easy and, in turn, ensure the safety of more South Africans.

“We are proud to say we have already had 39 healthcare professionals sign up, 20 hospitality sign-ups and two donations.”

Small acts of kindness

It is perhaps the individual acts of kindness that mean the most, and they are countless.

Some landlords have reduced tenants’ rent for this month, other people have created food and care packages to distribute to the elderly or indigent.

UJ library makerspace.

The blog on March 20 posted about Cape Town shop owner Abduragmaan Mohamed, who put together hygiene packs with hand sanitiser, a mask, soap and liquid disinfectant. He gave them, free of charge, to anyone aged over 65.

We have seen videos of people on balconies or porches applauding South Africa’s essential service workers – such as the refuse collectors – often unseen service providers who keep our city going in a time of the coronavirus.

The Den Anker Restaurant in Cape Town has partnered with The Justice Desk and the Rhulani Mabasa Children’s Foundation to provide food parcels to communities in need.

Companies and billionaires donate 

Companies and billionaires have opened their hearts, donating billions of rands to bring Covid-19 relief.

Among them are Mary Oppenheimer, the daughter of the late mining magnate Harry Oppenheimer, and her daughters, who donated R1 billion to the Solidarity Response Fund aimed at fighting Covid-19.

Last Saturday, Patrice Motsepe’s family and associates donated R1 billion, and on Tuesday, Naspers also pledged R1.5 billion to the fund.

Other notable donations include Telkom (R15 million), Outsurance (R102 million) and Momentum (R26 million).

The Rupert and Oppenheimer families also made R1 billion contributions each, some of which will benefit small businesses.

People volunteer virtually 

There is even an online platform,, which is encouraging South Africans to spend their time in lockdown to make a difference through virtual volunteering.

From designing a home workout routine for kids, to helping a substance abuse prevention programme with financial management, now you can make an impact without leaving your home.

“Virtual or remote volunteering involves volunteering from where you are, taking on important digital tasks such as social media support, marketing, writing, training, design, data capturing, providing legal advice and more.

The forgood platform acts as a central point, connecting the skills and talents of individuals and businesses with nonprofit, social impact organisations in need of those specific skills.

“The platform also offers a safe way to donate money to verified nonprofits, a good option for those who do not have time to give,” it says.

Shout SA bands together for masks

Social movement Shout SA, founded by artists and entrepreneurs Danny K and Kabelo Mabalane, has created a new public service initiative with SMD Technologies called Shout4Masks.

Their aim is to help raise money to buy masks directly from the factories to avoid profiteering go-betweens.

They want to urgently get the masks to healthcare workers and patients.

Mabalane told City Press: “Mask supplies are running out. Our heroes in the front line of this [Covid-19 coronavirus] pandemic have been asking for this support.”

Special commemorative plaques and certificates of recognition will be issued to honour those who make the invaluable contributions. Donors will be pleased to know that Shout4Masks is a section 18A company – all donations receive a tax deduction certificate.

“This initiative will be around for as long as the need is there. As far as Shout SA is concerned, we are committed to serving our country the best way possible for [a long] time to come,” he said.

*Go to to donate

Schools used to house the homeless 

In Gauteng, 30 schools are being used to house the homeless during the national lockdown.

Panyaza Lesufi, the acting MEC of social development, said two weeks ago that the provincial government would divert resources to bolster social services support for the homeless by using existing school infrastructure.

According to The Star, homeless people from the Johannesburg CBD, Roodepoort, Midrand, Sandton, Randburg CBD, Hyde Park, Rosebank, Auckland Park, Booysens and Brixton will be housed at the Queens High School, King Edward VII Preparatory School, Jeppe High School for Boys and Parktown Boys’ High.

The homeless from the Boksburg CBD, Kempton Park, Benoni, Germiston, Alberton, Brakpan and Springs will be sheltered at the Laerskool Elspark. Homeless people from the Tshwane CBD, Centurion, Silverton, Sunnyside, Menlyn, Lynnwood, Cullinan and Bronkhorstspruit will stay at Prinshofskool, Pretoriaskool vir Serebraal Gestremdes and Transoranje Skool vir Dowes.

“Beneficiaries will be given a once-off food parcel, catering for a full month.

“Through this programme, food will also be provided to shelters and home-based sick and weak people. Provision will also be made to people who are normally fed at soup kitchens,” said the department.

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