President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a five-day mourning period later this month for victims of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has so far claimed more than 20,000 lives in the country since March.In an address to the nation on Wednesday night, Ramaphosa announced that the cabinet has decided that the nation should embark on five days of mourning for the victims of COVID-19 from 25-29 November.
“We will let the national flag fly at half-mast throughout the country from 6am (0400 GMT) to 6pm from Wednesday 25 November to Sunday 29 November,” he said.
South Africa has to date recorded 742,394 coronavirus cases, with 92 percent of these having recovered while 20,011 have succumbed to the virus.
Ramaphosa called upon all South Africans to wear black armbands or other signs of mourning during the five days “to signify our respect for those who have departed.”
“We call upon all South Africans to demonstrate their solidarity and do this in remembrance of our countrymen and women, in recognition of the grief that we share as a nation, and as an affirmation of our determination to overcome this devastating disease.”
The mourning period will coincide with the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that are commemorated from 25 November to 10 December each year.
“It will be appropriate that during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children – which is the second pandemic we are confronting – we demonstrate our remembrance of all those who have departed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and gender-based violence,” Ramaphosa said.
Gender-based violence is one of South Africa’s most serious and pervasive challenges, with over 40 percent of South African women estimated to have experienced sexual and/or physical violence in their lifetime.