Thursday, June 25, 2020

Coronavirus: Sasani Studios shudders as SABC2's 7de Laan and both of's soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! all abruptly shut down because Covid-19 positive cases under cast and crew.

by Thinus Ferreira

The Afrikaans weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2, as well as both of's weekday soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! have abruptly shut down and ceased filming after all three independently produced primetime series had positive Covid-19 cases under cast and crew.

All three independently produced series are filmed at Sasani Studios in Highlands North, Johannesburg.

7de Laan on SABC2 produced by Danie Odendaal Productions, as well as Rhythm City produced by Quizzical Pictures and Scandal! produced by Ochre Media will continue to broadcast new episodes although the shows behind-the-scenes have all immediately halted production until further notice.

The three shows are the latest local South African TV production impacted by a new shutdown, following M-Net's The River produced by Tshedza Pictures on 1Magic on 1Magic (DStv 103), Skeem Saam on SABC1, and Word of Mouth's Venda series Muvhango on SABC2 that all shut down because of positive Covid-19 coronavirus cases.

SABC2's Lithapo series briefly also shuttered before production resumed on Monday after a possible case turned out negative but with the person still remaining in self-isolation.

The shuttering of a growing number of TV series comes after the entire South Africa film and TV industry abruptly closed in late-March for the national lockdown period which has seen the already-struggling industry shed thousands of jobs in the two months that cameras were turned off and studio doors closed.

Despite studio and on-set testing, more and more shows are forced to once again shut down as cast and crew members are getting infected.

"It is with a heavy heart that we confirm that one of our colleagues has tested positive for Covid-19," Danie Odendaal Productions told TVwithThinus Thursday afternoon in response to a media enquiry.

"For this reason and for the health and safety of everyone involved in the show, we have immediately halted production until further notice."

7de Laan says the crew member is currently in isolation. "All cast and crew members have been asked to self-quarantine while undergoing testing and following all the necessary health procedures in accordance with government legislation. During this time our offices and studios will be disinfected."

The production company says that "A challenging moment like this calls for us to continue urging all South Africans to be vigilant, to stay home, and practice all the personal hygiene and cough etiquette measures." told TVwithThinus on Thursday afternoon that it can confirm that "positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded on two of its weekday soapies Rhythm City and Scandal!" and that "both sets of the local production premises have been shut down and are undertaking the necessary testing for exposed cast and crew members".

"The sets have undergone deep cleaning to further minimize the risk of contamination, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. Affected individuals are currently undergoing self-isolation until the end of the stipulated 14-day period." says it won't release the name of the talent who've tested Covid-19 positive and that "filming will resume when it is appropriate to do so".