Covid-19 in South Africa: Here's how you can help

Business Insider SA
Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images
  • The novel coronavirus has changed life as most people know it – at least for now.
  • Some of the measures imposed to fight Covid-19 are potentially devastating to South Africa's most vulnerable.
  • On Monday South Africa was put on a 21-day lockdown.
  • There are ways you can help. Here are some of them.
  • For more stories go to

The first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in South Africa on 5 March - and within two weeks the government introduced a range of restrictions, from social distancing to the cancellation of events and gatherings in a bid to reduce spread.

On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day national lockdown in South Africa.

These measures are potentially devastating to South Africa’s most vulnerable, as well as small businesses and freelance and part-time workers.

Meanwhile charity organisations such soup kitchens and school feeding schemes are facing logistical and financial complications.

Here's how you can help others in South Africa during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Donate to South Africa's Solidarity Response Fund

South Africa now has a solidarity fund that will try to ameliorate the impact of the novel coronavirus, and the measures put in place to slow its spread, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday.

The Solidarity Response Fund will support what the public sector is doing, Ramaphosa said, without providing details of its spending priorities or how funds will be accessed.

"The fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted," he said. 

Here are the donation details for South Africa's Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

  • Bank: Standard Bank
  • Branch name: Sandton City
  • Branch code: 051001
  • Account name: Solidarity Fund
  • Account number: 023070021
  • Account type: Current account

The fund will operate a call centre for donors, between 08:00 and 18:00, on 0860 001 001 and can be emailed on You can also add a donation to the fund with your purchase at any Checkers till point around the country.

You can donate blood

The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) as well as the Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) implore South Africans to continue donating blood even during lockdown.

Both SANBS, which operates in 8 of 9 provinces, and the WCBS, which operates from the Western Cape, are appealing to all donors from all blood groups to continue donating blood to prevent blood stocks running critically low. 

 “We anticipate added pressure on the blood supply during Easter, Ramadaan and the winter months and the added effects of the Coronavirus could see the number of eligible donors decrease in the following few months,” said Michelle Vermeulen, Promotions, PR and Planning Manager for the WCBS. 

However, deferrals will be stricter. 

Travel to various donor centres will be considered part essential travel. Regular donor deferral periods as well as new additional Covid-19 imposed deferrals will apply. 

“Should a donor not be feeling well, or exhibit any flu-like symptoms or signs of infection, they will not be permitted to access our facilities,” said Dr Jackie Thomson, SANBS Medical Director. 

You can visit the SANBS website here and type in your address to find your closest centre.  

See also: Please keep donating blood during lockdown, say blood services – here’s where and how you can

You can volunteer your skills virtually

You can volunteer your skills virtually on online social platform

From designing a home workout routine for kids, to helping a substance abuse prevention programme with financial management, virtual volunteering is a way for South Africans to create impact, without leaving their homes during the national lockdown. 

“We’re living through a particularly trying time in history, but it’s also a time where we are likely to see the best side of humanity. We need to stay behind doors to beat this, but we also want to help those in need. Virtual volunteering offers an easy way to create social impact, while remaining indoors and safe – you don’t even have to get out of your pyjamas,” says Andy Hadfield, CEO of forgood. 

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

The following options are available via their online platform:

  • Volunteering your time or skills virtually – all you need is the internet. If you can’t find something you’re passionate about, create a personalised offer and forgood will match it out to causes in need of your skills.
  • Donate money – as a result of the lockdown, charities and non-profits who usually rely on donations will struggle to secure essentials, including food and hygiene products. Donating money helps these causes stay afloat, allowing them to purchase these items themselves. Donations from R50 are accepted. 

School feeding schemes, which now have to limit numbers, could use your cans or money.

The Mpumalanga education department’s flouting of procurement procedures in the awarding of a school feeding scheme has added to billions in irregular expenditure. Picture: Chevon Booysen

Food insecurity affects millions of children, and there are several feeding schemes that ensure vulnerable children receive nourishment every day. Although schools have officially closed, some remain open to welcome hungry children. 

One of South Africa’s oldest feeding schemes, ACFS, is struggling to adjust operations to continue feeding the more than 10 400 children.

“We have also been terribly impacted by coronavirus,” says ACFS Executive Director Bertha Magoge. “We’ve had to scale down considerably on our programmes, and downsize significantly the number of children who can come to our centre at any one time, to reduce the risk.”

They’re now trying to break the large numbers that used to stream through their doors into smaller groups – a process that’s costing the feeding scheme more money than before.

Magoge is on the ground in Soweto ensuring that as many children as possible stay fed. She says that they urgently need non-perishable food items, as well as products like soap and hand sanitiser to help improve cleanliness among the children.

Many organisations like these accept donations of products, but those who are unable to can also make cash donations to the feeding scheme of their choice. Magoge says that cash donations to ACFS would be a huge help - and they are able to process these directly through the ACFS website.

Soup kitchens too need non-perishable foods – and hand sanitiser.

(Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Soup kitchens play a vital role in feeding homeless people in South Africa. Most cities have several soup kitchens, and all are in need of support in the form of monetary and product donations. 

Danny Diliberto, founder of Ladles of Love, a soup kitchen based in Cape Town, is worried that financial donations will slow as the novel coronavirus impacts financially on businesses and individuals.

“Even though we’re a non-profit organisation, we still need money to run, so monetary donations are vital,” says Diliberto. “But donations of perishable foods are also vital - things like canned food, maize meal, oil, and pulses like beans and lentils.”

Diliberto says that soup kitchens like his are supplying sanitation resources for their customers, and so donations of bars of soap, and small bottles of sanitiser, that homeless people can keep in a pocket, will be hugely beneficial.

There are hundreds of soup kitchens located throughout South Africa that require assistance, and most, like Ladles of Love also take once-off or repeat cash donations directly via their websites.

Eat from restaurants, via delivery, tip heavily, or buy a voucher

chef making flames in the kitchen
Supplied zoli gy/Pixabay

Restaurants have been among the businesses hardest hit by Covid-19 shutdowns.

Statistics released by restaurant booking website Open Table showed that restaurant reservations in the United States have tanked by as much as 40 percent in recent weeks.

Under regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act, the South African government has ordered bars, shebeens, and some restaurants to close at 18:00 on weekdays, and 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays.

Several restaurants took the decision to shut down, or adapt the way they do business, even before this announcement. 

Clarkes Bar and Dining Room, a restaurant in the Cape Town CBD that’s been in operation since 2011, was one of the first in the city to close voluntarily.“In an attempt to do as much as we can to try and slow the spread of Covid-19 we have decided to close up shop temporarily,” the restaurant said in a statement on Instagram.

“We hope this decision emphasises for all the seriousness of what is happening and encourages others to do the same.”

Clarkes, like many restaurants that have shut their doors to seated patrons, has since opted to provide a delivery-only service - and restauranteurs are turning to this model as the only way to keep generating profits until Covid-19 passes.

Eat Out has also published a comprehensive list of other ways to help keep restaurants operating and staff employed, including tipping generously for takeaways, and buying vouchers for future use. 

Learn something from freelancers and contract workers, or pay now for services later.

Quitting fantasies are fun, but not realistic.
10'000 Hours/Getty Images

Freelancers, and people who rely on contract work, have seen projects delayed or, in some cases, cancelled altogether. Online freelance workplaces around the world are reporting differing levels of workflow changes, but none of it good.

Freelancers on South African Facebook job group, the Resource, which serves as an online job notice board, have recounted tales of clients enacting force majeure clauses in contracts, owing to Covid-19.

Workers in the film and television industry in South Africa have also been impacted, as major local and international shows wrapped ahead of the spread of the virus.

Members of The Resource have been stoic in the face of dropping contracts, though. 

Some have suggested support for freelancers could come in the form of long-term commitments from clients to continue work once business resumes some normality. 

Others have encouraged people to sell their skills and expertise via online platforms like Skillshare our Udemy. There are hundreds of courses on these platforms, many of them created by freelancers in South Africa, and freelancers earn income for every course sold.

Pay domestic workers (and those in the gig economy) even if you don't use their services.

PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images
PHOTO: Gallo/Getty Images

Some who work in the gig economy are busier than ever; in the United States, grocery delivery service Instacart has seen sales increase up to 20 times more than normal in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases. Locally, Checkers announced a massive spike in online orders.

Some workers in the gig or informal employment sector, however, are less likely to see more work - a trend that could spell disaster for people like domestic workers and gardeners. 

Some, such as politician Phumzile Van Damme, have urged employers to help by allowing domestic workers and gardeners to stay home with full pay.

SweepSouth, which connects cleaning staff to users via an application, says those who still wish to use their services can do so - and they’ve put measures in place to educate cleaners in best practices.

But its clients have the option to pay part of their cleaning fee if they cancel, to support the cleaners. 

Buy from small businesses – even if it is just a voucher for later use.

Many other small businesses in South Africa have been impacted by the coronavirus.

Some small businesses, like bicycle shop Rook, or plant shop Plantify, have posted social media messages saying they cannot afford to close their doors. They currently intend welcoming customers into their stores in limited numbers and are following strict sanitisation protocols - but are encouraging people not to stop shopping altogether, but to rather buy online to reduce human interactions.

Even by making seemingly small online purchases, shops like these may be able to weather the storm.

Others, who offer largely in-person services, like yoga studios and hairdressers, have also closed their doors. But many, including some local yoga studios, and even Virgin Active, have taken their courses online.

And to aid cash flow, small independent service-based businesses have encouraged people to purchase vouchers; these will generate some income for now, and can be claimed by the user at a more appropriate time.

For more information direct from the source, see also:

the NICD hotline for Covid-19 is: 0800-029-999.

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