Principal, deputy die of Covid-19 at Eastern Cape school

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A school principal and his deputy have died of Covid-19.
A school principal and his deputy have died of Covid-19.
Fabian Strauch/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • The principal and deputy principal of Uitenhage's Noninzi Luzipho Primary School died of Covid-19 three days apart.  
  • The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which incorporates Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth and Despatch, leads with Covid-19 deaths and cases in the Eastern Cape.
  • Premier Oscar Mabuyane has assigned his special advisor, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, to offer support in the metro.

More than 960 learners and 25 teachers of Noninzi Luzipho Primary School in Uitenhage are receiving counselling after the school's principal and deputy principal died of Covid-19 three days apart.

The Eastern Cape education department confirmed this to News24 on Tuesday.    

Principal David Daniel Mavikela died on Saturday at Netcare Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage after previously complaining of breathing difficulties, while his deputy, Esther Namfu, died on Wednesday.

The MEC for education in the Eastern Cape, Fundile Gade, has sent his condolences.  

READ | Ramaphosa calls on citizens to use the Covid-19 app - here's how it works

Departmental spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said: "The department has been involved from the beginning at the school, and officials to counsel the learners and educators are on site as we speak. The MEC sends his heartfelt condolences to the families and district officials have been dispatched to visit the families of the deceased."

Mtima said the Kwanobuhle township-based school remains open and that teachers and learners are receiving the necessary support. 


Mavikela's widow, Patience Mavikela, said she did not have time to respond to the media, and was grieving over her husband's death, and requested space.

Namfu will be buried on Saturday and her son, Sibongile Namfu, was also busy with funeral arrangements.

On Monday, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced he had assigned his special advisor and axed health department head, Dr Thobile Mbengashe, to support the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman district municipalities to deal with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 infections. 

In a statement, Mabuyane said: "Dr Mbengashe's role is to support both JOCs [Joint Operation Centres] to facilitate the implementation of the strategy approved by the executive council of the provincial government to respond to the surge of Covid-19 numbers."

He said the strategy is focused on sharpening clinical response through:
  • Resurgence mitigation in areas of high risk (with potential to trigger spread of infections);
  • Public education, communication, community mobilisation and enforcement of regulations;
  • Institutional support mechanisms that support health business continuity.

"Through this strategy, the provincial government is targeting hotspot areas showing increasing numbers of Covid-19 infections in the province in order to lower the rate of transmission as we deal with what looks like a second wave of virus pandemic in the province.

"Dr Mbengashe will be in the Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman (districts) this week to work with the two structures to suppress resurgence of Covid-19 infections," said Mabuyane. 

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which incorporates Uitenhage, Port Elizabeth and Despatch, leads the province with Covid-19 deaths and cases.

There are 26 407 cases of Covid-19 in the metro and 1 174 deaths.

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