Contact tracing, not spying – Minister assures South Africans


Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams assured South Africans contact tracing for COVID-19 cases will not be used to spy.

Addressing a COVID-19 National Command Council media briefing in Tshwane, the Minister said contact tracing will obtain information to assist government minimise the spread of the virus.

“When we say we are going to use cell phone numbers, it doesn’t mean we are going take anybody’s number. Those that test and are found positive…it is those people the Department of Health will seek permission from Electronic Communications Network Service (ECNS) licences to access geolocations,” the Minister said.

In turn, people who have been in contact with a person who tested positive will be identified through contact tracing.

“I know people are concerned government wants to spy on people. This is not spying on anyone. We respect everyone has the right to privacy. In a situation like this, individual rights do not supersede the country’s rights. The most important and critical right is ensuring the safety of South Africans.

“We are on lockdown because of the virus. It is in our interest as government as well as South Africans to ensure we minimise the spread of the virus,” the Minister said.

Doing this, she said, government will not intercept phone calls in contact tracing.

Globally there are 896 450 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), 45 526 confirmed deaths and 206 countries, areas or territories with cases.

Centralisation of water services

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation established a command centre that takes over most work of water boards.

“We established a command centre where you call to get access to water. The command centre ensures all water tanks procured are taken to places identified to be in need,” Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu said.

Municipalities are responsible for identifying areas where water tanks will be placed.

All water tankers will report on a regular basis to the command centre at Rand Water in Johannesburg.

“Should anybody experience a shortage of water, this is where we will be able to direct our tankers to. This place will direct people with irrigation schemes in farming communities to direct some water to where there is a need for water,” said Sisulu.