A SAGDA official conducts a digital temperature reading off the forehead of a taxi operator at the roadblock on the R71.

One of the famously deserted and optimally ineffective roadblocks erected at the three entrances to Tzaneen town was finally a bustling hub of activity on Tuesday morning.

It is reported that seven weeks after the start of the lock down, the local police and traffic officers, decided that it would be the right time to conduct covid-19 screenings at the R71 roadblock heading toward Letsitele. This meant that they would need to exert the required effort to launch off their camping chairs and apply energy into the direction of the tarmac where they would need to stop and search taxi’s, which up until that morning, had been allowed to pass through the roadblock mostly unperturbed. It is not certain how many vehicles were not stopped, or what criteria was used to decide which vehicles to indeed pull over to the side of the big white marquise, but we are certain that at least some fell prey to the discretion of the officers present.

Tzaneen Traffic Officers redirect vehicles to the side of the road for screenings to be conducted.

Even more confusing is the fact that neither the police officers nor the traffic officers or even the army soldiers deployed at the roadblock, were conducting the thermo-scans of the vehicle occupants (measuring the temperatures with hand-held digital thermometers pointed at the foreheads of the individuals).

Instead, members of the South African Graduate Development Association (SAGDA) were conducting the screenings. But, who is SAGDA and why were they doing the screenings and not the officers stationed at the roadblock?

According to their website, SAGDA is a Section 21 Company established by a group of unemployed graduates in 1997. Their ‘About’ intro reads “the graduates were faced with challenges emanating from the South African economy’s inability to create adequate job opportunities thereby rendering hordes of graduates unemployed. These young men and women decided to establish SAGDA with an emphasis on assisting graduates find employment and participate in the South African economy.”

They also make the bold claim on their website that “SAGDA has influenced public policy and has well sought after advice to institutions such as the Presidency, National Youth Development Agency, Department of Public Service and Administration and the Department of Trade and Industry.”

We know that the police contingent at the roadblock during this stop-and-screen initiative was led by Col Randela and that there were SANDF members and some traffic officers present too. In total, SAGDA claim to have screened 1 400 motorists and passengers. We do not know the outcome of these screenings, nor did we manage to gain any clarity as to why these screenings were conducted by SAGDA and not representatives of Choice or the Limpopo Department of Health. We have sent these and other related questions to the spokesperson of the Limpopo Health Department, Niel Shikwambana, for clarity.



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