Corporate South Africa unites to aid citizens affected and infected by Covid-19


By Roxanne Francis

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

The last few weeks have proven to be a very challenging time for countries around the globe, following the rapid and ill-fated spread of Covid-19 everywhere. South Africa went into a 21-Day National Lockdown at midnight on 26 March 2020, as part of government’s efforts to curb the spread of this deadly disease.

It has not been all doom and gloom for South Africa. One of the many positives we’ve seen come out of this is our ability to stand united as a nation during a time of crisis. Healthcare professionals are working long hours, giving special care to high-risk patients, and businesses are offering any and all measures of support that they are able to. We also applaud the efforts of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), who have been deployed into the streets of South Africa, to ensure safety. Together, these efforts are proving just how critical unity is during trying times in order to save lives.

Over the last few days, the private and public sector joined forces to help lessen the pressure on government. The following South African businesses have pledged both monetary and non-monetary support:

Pick ‘n Pay
Earlier this month, major retailer Pick ‘n Pay announced that they have made provision for a special pensioners shopping hour (7 – 8am) every Wednesday, for shoppers over the age of 65. This is to grant elderly customers the opportunity shop for their groceries and essential needs without strain. All that is required is for customers to bring their valid ID with them.

In addition, the retailer has also given customers who are Smart Shopper cardholders, access to a month’s free CAPS-aligned workbooks, posters, and support materials for learners and teachers for up to three grades. Customers are requested to register with their Smart Shopper numbers online. This will aid learners and teachers who have been granted special leave from school since 18 March 2020, and parents are therefore encouraged to continue educating their children at home during lockdown.

The Patrice Motsepe Foundation
The Patrice Motsepe Foundation belonging to businessman, Patrice Motsepe, together with partners pledged R1 billion to offer relief to government amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

A statement released by the foundation said: “Several hundred million Rands will immediately be made available with the primary objective of saving lives and slowing and restraining the spread of the Coronavirus. We are purchasing sanitisers, disinfectants, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and are in discussions with Government, health workers and other stakeholders, to assist with acquiring other equipment and making resources available which are essential for dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve been advised that access to water for regularly washing hands is crucial for slowing and limiting the spread of the Coronavirus.”

Jaguar/Land Rover South Africa
From the automotive sector, Jaguar Land Rover South Africa have decided to avail 11 vehicles to the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS), who will need transportation to be made available to volunteers nationwide, who are being deployed to communities to educate them on the transmission of Covid-19 and encourage social distancing.

Media Group Naspers is  another corporation to offer financial aid and has committed R 1,5 billion to the Covid-19 crisis management.

CNBC Africa reports that R 500 million will be invested into the Solidarity Response Fund, while R 1 billion worth of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies will be purchased from China, to offer support to healthcare professionals at work in the country.

Discovery and Vodacom
The two major corporations have joined efforts to put measures in place for testing. Together, they will fund virtual doctor’s consultations and facilitating referrals allocated to laboratories who are in need. The joint fund will to pay doctors for 100 000 consultations. Other South Africans get access  to book these consultations for free.

As citizens of South Africa, our common goal now is solidarity. Major corporations are doing it and as individuals, we can do it too. Never underestimate the impact you could make – the smallest change could save a life. Play Your Part and save lives. This reaffirms our spirit of Ubuntu as South Africans and it is inspiring to see it in action. For we are South Africa.

Additional Reporting: Wheels24, CNBC Africa