South Africa was placed in lockdown because of the global Covid-19 pandemic on March 26.

Most businesses in South Africa were unable to operate at full capacity and as a result their  processes either partially or completely came to a halt. 

During times of crises, swift decisions are paramount  and requires experienced executives and managers, with the mandate to steer the company in the right direction. 

A transformation to online selling and remote working  was unprecedented, that resulted in questions around security and the need to review processes Companies now had to consider a different way to engage with the customer, a shift to online sales and how goods were going to be delivered instead of on-premises purchases. Theseamongst others, were only a few of the changes needed for businesses to survive.    

From an immigration point of view, the South African missions closed overnight, bringing visa processes to halt. Airlines stopped operating and borders closed, isolating our country to the extent not even experienced during the dark days of apartheid.  

Some of our corporate clients could no longer bring in their international assignees. In some instances, even the C-level executive positions remained unfilled. 

Several expats, who had travelled home to wait for the pandemic to pass, saw their visas being revoked by the Department of Home Affairs at the start of the lockdown. We also witnessed families separated for many monthputting further emotional strain on foreign workers.  

From a legal standpoint, questions arose whether executives stranded abroad, with work visas that were revoked could continue doing work for the South African office.   

Many companies had their management teams crippled, during a time when swift decision making and strong leadership were most important. 

Now that we are slowly returning to some sort of normality, it is time to assess the damage that this pandemic and lockdown has done to our economy, our businesses and ultimately our people.  

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Written by: Hans Kroll