Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize has called on members of the public to wear cloth face masks when they are in public places and here in Makhanda, the Facemasks 4 Makana group is well on its way to making face masks available for as many people as possible, with dozens of people at home making masks to donate across the town.
In his national briefing on 10 April, the Minister said face-masks are recommended as an addition to hand-washing and social distancing.
He said, “We are satisfied that there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that the cloth face mask significantly reduces the amount of [the SARS COV-2]virus that can be emitted.”
The SARS COV-2 virus causes the disease, Covid-19, which is transmitted by breathing in the droplets in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and by touching a surface where infected cough- or sneeze- droplets have landed.
Facemasks 4 Makana’s Susan Powers said their aim was to encourage everyone in Makana to wear a mask over their mouth and nose when in a public place, including shopping. “Our campaign is designed to use cloth face masks – so we are not competing with health services that require medical grade masks for frontline staff such as nurses and doctors,” Powers said.
The group encourages members of the public to donate masks so that as many people as possible in Makhanda are able to wear one when they’re in public places. If you’re not a sewer, Facemasks 4 Makana encourages you to buy masks from the outlets listed below for donation to the campaign. Group members will continue to distribute the masks where they are most needed.
“Wearing a cloth mask will only provide partial protection for the wearer, perhaps 60% protection. But it also protects the people the wearer meets, because we can be carrying the virus but not showing symptoms, and therefore highly infectious without knowing it. And it is also a very visible reminder to encourage keeping distances and not touching.”
Facemasks 4 Makana has adopted the #masks4all worldwide slogan for wearing a mask: ‘My mask protects you – Your mask protects me.’
“By wearing a mask you are doing what millions of others are doing in countries around the world to prevent CoVID19 spreading,” Powers said.
In the space of a week, dozens of people have joined the call to make masks at home. Makhanda residents are encouraged to donate masks and also fabrics which can deposited at drop-off points at Pick n Pay, Spar and Clicks.
Makana Revive! has donated R2000 towards the purchase of elastic, and Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE) and Dupliprint designed and printed the educational pamphlets that accompany each mask.
“Earlier this week we provided masks to accompany food parcels distributed by Food4Futures and the Cathedral of St Michael & St George,” Powers said. “We’re delighted that high risk and high profile staff such as Hi-Tec have been given masks.”
These were all masks received from home sewers and donated to these organisations and others, including the Magistrate’s Court.
The groups next visit was to the taxi associations.
“We have asked them to share the word with passengers that everyone should wear a mask.”
Facemasks 4 Makana is also in contact with commercial outlets. Birch’s have a permit to trade during lockdown and are making many thousands of masks.
“They have 80 kilometres of elastic!” Powers said.
Smaller concerns such as 9 and 3/4, among others, are selling masks as fast as they can make them.
Facemasks 4 Makana is working collaboratively with the Grahamstown Residents Association, Grahamstown Business Forum, Makana Revive!, the Grahamstown Parents Network and Rhodes University.
“We celebrate everyone who joins in, especially mask makers, and we invite more sewers to join us,” Powers said. “But we also celebrate every person who wears a mask in public places. You are helping make Makana safer at this difficult time.”
Masks are available to purchase at Pick n Pay, Birch’s and 9 and 3/4. To help with donations of masks or fabrics please contact Susan Powers at 082 307 0789. If you wish to make a financial donation go to https://makana-revive.org.
Please visit www.facebook.com/Facemasks-4-
Here is what Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said about facemasks in his statement on 10 April 2020:
Face-masks are recommended as an addition to hand-washing and social distancing. The
face mask should never be promoted as our primary prevention strategy and should never
be promoted separately from hand-washing and social distancing.
To ensure that N95 masks and surgical masks are secured for workers who really need
them, we would like to recommend that the cloth face-mask should be used by the general
We are satisfied that there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that the cloth face mask
significantly reduces the amount of virus that can be emitted.
It is nevertheless important to observe basic rules of the use of cloth face masks to ensure
that they are safe for use:
• The face-mask must cover the nose and mouth completely.
• Face-masks should not be lowered when speaking, coughing or sneezing.
• Face-masks should never be touched – fidgeting with the mask repeatedly is strongly
discouraged as it is important to avoid touching the face with hands. The inner side of the
mask should not be touched by hands.
• Wash hands before and after donning or removing the face-mask.
• Wash cloth face-masks with warm soapy water and iron when dry. Ironing assists with
• Change your cloth face mask if it is wet or visibly soiled
• Each person will need to have at least 2 face-masks so that one face-mask is available
when the other is being washed.
Do want a Face Mask?
Birch’s – contact Sam 076 367 7346 (their masks are also available at Pick n Pay and Fusion)
PnP – open 0700 to 1800 daily
Fusion – open normal hours
‘9 & 3/4’ – contact Hilmar 082 451 3521
Doreen van der Merwe – 082 952 8522
Jane Holderness – 084 800 1577
Lhethu Moyeni – 074 352 3945
Junita Els – 082 671 8558
Note: Pick ‘n Pay and Fusion are selling Birch’s masks.
If you know of other suppliers please send a message to 076 289 5122
Both Clicks and Country Fresh hope to be selling masks soon.