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This article is a critical discussion of the negative developments which have either been occasioned or aggravated in South Africa as a consequence of the virulent spread of the global corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The author has evaluated the consequences for South African society in relation to Ubuntu theory and the utu-buntu business model. In many African countries, unique structural and cultural influences are exerted on the forms which urbanisation processes take, which are clearly discernible in both urban and rural areas in South Africa. The article has identified a diverse range of factors such as poverty, unemployment, corruption and domestic violence as decisive determinants of the size of the problem which the pandemic represents for South Africa. Accordingly, an evaluation of the degree to which South Africa is adequately prepared to manage the pandemic is imperative, as are assessments of the role of social work and the implications of the pandemic for social work practice.