COVID19 claims the life of a teacher

1 April 2020

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) is shocked and saddened by the untimely passing away of a teacher and member Tholakele Shandu through the COVID19 pandemic.

Cde Shandu, was a teacher at Plattdrive Primary School in Isiphingo, South of Durban. She had suffered severe abdominal pains and was first admitted around the 6th of March and spent about two and a half weeks at St Augustine Hospital. After being discharged, she fell more ill and was readmitted and diagnosed with asthma. She passed way at the hospital on Tuesday, 31 March 2020.

SADTU strongly believes Cde Shandu contracted the virus when she was first admitted at St Augustine Hospital. According to her family, she was hospitalized with an elderly patient in her ward.

 We are aware, Cde Shandu's children have been admitted at Addington hospital and a friend, who fetched her from hospital when she was first discharged, has also tested positive with the virus.

We send our deepest and sincerest condolences to the Shandu family, learners and teachers of Plattdrive Primary School. We call on them not to panic, as we believe they were not affected because Cde Shandu never went back to school after being discharged from hospital.

As we mourn her death, we call on hospitals to try their best, with the limited resources they have, to also exercise social distancing on patients. We also call on the department of health to trace and track all who may have been in contact with Cde Shandu, her children and friend and encourage them to be tested and implement self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing. They should be given counseling in order to build their resilience. We commend President Ramaphosa for announcing the launch of a screening and testing programme that will include 10 000 workers who will be visiting homes in towns and villages to screen residents for COVID19. We further call on the government to repurpose some of the drive-in outlets for testing purposes as matter urgency so that the cycle of infection can be disrupted.

As the COVID 19 spreads, we call on the society not to stigmatise those who are affected and infected by the virus and their families. We call on the society to educate those who are still thinking that the virus knows boundaries and conspiracy theories to abide by the rules and regulations as promulgated by government and stay indoors.

We call on the education sector as a whole and the South African society at large to abide by the lockdown rules and stay indoors, keep social distances, wash hands with soap or sanitisers and clean surfaces.

As we mourn Cde Shandu's death, we commend our health workers in all health institutions and we call upon government, working together with private manufacturers, to provide all workers with protective clothing that are fit for purpose. These workers are risking their lives and their families and we condemn any management that treats these workers as pawns instead of supporting them and making sure they are safe as they render essential services to our people.

As part of a social response to the COVID 19 pandemic, SADTU is setting up a dedicated WhatsApp messenger communicator service so that members can receive from the Union, clear and accurate updates on COVID19. We hope this information will serve not only to empower members but for members to take this information to the wider community to reach as many people as possible. All members are going to receive a link on WhatsApp for them to join this dedicated channel.

We will also send occasional surveys to complete so that our messaging is responsive to members' needs and what we learn from these surveys can be shared to support other national messaging. We will also use the findings from the surveys to form support groups that will operate remotely but effectively using our rich experience of trained counselors around the country.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi