NMB protest leader says ‘idolo phansi and masks phezulu’

Mkhuseli Sizani

Protest leader Sipho Ntsondwa has had a change of heart after a serious Covid-19 scare.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Informal Settlements Forum chairperson has called on residents to stop protesting until Covid-19 is over after he survived the virus. 

Ntsondwa has been at the forefront of leading violent service delivery protests in Westville township in Port Elizabeth after the outbreak of the virus. 

“On Monday last week I felt a severe pain on my back. I lost my appetite and my sense of taste,” he told Scrolla.Africa on Wednesday afternoon. 

“I thought I had babalaz because on weekends I always enjoy myself by drinking too much but on Tuesday I collapsed and it was getting worse. On Wednesday I walked to Dr Tebelele’s surgery in KwaDwesi where he told me my symptoms were that of Covid-19. I also tested positive,” he said. 

Ntsondwa said it was the most difficult days of his life. 

“I had to be transported home because I had no strength. I felt a sharp pain in my lungs. Every time I breathed the pain took my strength away. I also had a cough and I was short of breath,” he said. 

Ntsondwa said he didn’t take Covid seriously but it nearly killed him. 

“I was involved in six marches during hard lockdown. We also defied the police when they asked us to wear our masks and to maintain social distancing. 

“I don’t know where I got the Covid. But our protests have the potential of spreading the infections,” he said.

He said it was time to bend the knee and to mask up.

“Idolo phansi and masks phezulu,” he said. 

“Let’s engage in meetings rather than these dangerous protest marches until Covid-19 is over.” 

On Thursday Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed a surge in second wave cases, with almost 7,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours across SA. 

He said there had been a spike in cases among 15-19 year olds, apparently “due to a large number of parties”.