In contrast to some parts of the world, South Africa mobilised quickly and enforced lockdown speedily. I have no doubt that this helped flatten the curve. Staying home and keeping social distancing rules are so important. We all know this. In South Africa however, it’s just not that simple. We have huge problems with poverty, and the virus has compounded the problem. I know that the poverty problem is not unique to South Africa, but post is from the viewpoint of a South African.
Today is Day 39 of lockdown for us. We are currently on 131 deaths. I hate that anyone died but 131 a number I am happy about. The less casualties the better and we seem to be keeping our casualties to a minimum. Government has a done a lot in terms of trying to get things under control and at first it worked. South Africans felt like they were doing this together. The lockdown has been broken down into levels. 5 being the hard lockdown and 1 being the almost back to normal life.
So as infections reduce, we were will be going down on the levels. There are different restrictions that will be lifted with each level. We have now moved to level 4 but things have become a bit chaotic. We were told by the President that the cigarette ban would be lifted but then one of the Ministers who apparently consulted with the President, as per the last information received, that the ban of cigarettes and alcohol will stay in place.
We are now allowed to at least order Uber Eats. Yes Lord! You are allowed to exercise between 6am and 9am because apparently Corona Virus sleeps in…. Of course, on the first day of Level 4 people took to the streets to run and walk en masse. This is the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town. Social distancing for whaaaat?
People have been getting tense, describing the lockdown regulations as “arbitrary and illogical”. I have to agree to a certain extent. How are you going to tell Hairdressers they can go back to work …. ONLINE! Please help me understand this. How many people will pay a hairdresser for this? Gurrrrl I’ll pay you R500 to watch me blow dry my OWN hair and chat like we do in the Salon, while I bring myself a glass of my own champers! Then again by day gazillion and seventy five we might actually resort to this. Who knows? No one apparently!
The army was brought in to do roadblocks and ensure people are following the rules. We were happy with this but slowly as these crazy regulations are put in place a lot of people became angry, discouraged, disappointed and lost faith in the government. This is a massive about turn from when this started. We lauded our government for their great work. Now? People are confused. In a world where everything is so uncertain having clear guidelines that makes sense is massive for the people of South Africa. It almost gives you a kind of sense of security.
Uncertainty leads to widespread panic and anxiety, taking a toll on our already fragile state of minds.
Schools are having a phased in approach. A plan has been put in place to return students to school by phasing them in by grades. With everything, we have to play it by ear. If infections are too high, they will have to re-look this plan.
There have been many, many arrests due to lockdown contravention. Some people are selfish and ignorant but now we see people pushing back. The army is using rubber bullets to disperse crowds of people. One woman has lost an eye because of a rubber bullet being fired. At the same time, I have seen videos of police being outnumbered by crowds and in obvious danger. If we all, citizens and law enforcement follow guidelines we would not have this happening.
Rioting and looting have started happening. I said in the beginning that this would be a problem. There are a lot of “No work, no pay” people like domestics (maids) and gardeners. There is a significant amount of people who work in this sector, oftentimes being the sole bread winner for an extended family. Some people have continued to pay their domestic workers but not everyone has.
I’ve heard of wealthy people losing jobs, I’ve heard of poor people losing their meagre earnings. Homeless people have basically been rounded up and put into camps to keep them safe. This has a had a few hiccups but seems to be working although having people with co-morbidity issues like TB in one space is challenging as well. God forbid we have a breakout in these camps of ANY illness let alone something as dangerous as Tuberculosis! I am glad they will be out of the cold and rain this Winter though.
Government have now tried to start distributing food parcels to people. This isn’t working as well as we would have liked it to. This has caused rioting. People are going hungry. Back in the apartheid era people of colour were put in “townships”. Far away from the city and suburbs. So, they are stuck in these townships trying to make to do with the few stores and the few stores people run from their homes (known as Spaza shops) to try and get food. I read a story about a butcher in a township being closed and fined for a second time after it was found to be selling spoiled meat. Apparently, the stench was God awful but where else do they go … Also, it’s going for cheap and they will take what they can get and try and make the best of it.
My friend, who is actively involved in everything going on was telling me that people are already asking neighbours for chicken skins to make food with. Yes, you read that right. Chicken skins. Just to make a meal for their family. My brain cannot even comprehend this! I think with the problem of drug and alcohol addiction in poor communities we cannot give them more money. I would like to see the country bring in food stamps for these people. This way babies can get their formula instead of the parent spending the cash on what they want. Maybe I’m naive. Do you think this will work in South Africa?
Our economy like most other countries is so shaky right now. Businesses asking for bailouts. Retrenchments are inevitable and all of this means more unemployed people unable to look after their families. My mom still pays her domestic. She lives in a house with 13 other people! This is another problem for us. It’s hard to ask people in townships or living in poverty to practice social distancing. Very often you will find more than one family living in a shack. A literal shack. I’m sure there are videos on YouTube of what township life is in South Africa that you can go check out if you are not familiar with them. We ask them to wash their hands, but they don’t have running water! They fetch water from a central tap and carry these buckets home. It is then used for cooking, washing clothes, dishes and bathing. Social distancing when you’re queuing up with your whole village for water because the demand has gone up? Nope.
We were afraid of it hitting the townships because they are so densely populated. Well it’s hit the townships. How do you quarantine when you have 13 people living with you in your house? It’s impossible! I’ve seen a story on the news of people in one poverty-stricken area queueing for 5 DAYS. Yes, 5 DAYS for food parcels! Can you imagine. What the hell do they eat in the meantime?
Again, imagine the queue if they are queuing for five days. Social distancing? Probably not. Almost impossible if almost your whole village is queueing for food. As I said they would come to the central business districts to start looting. When you look at all the things mentioned above and you have hungry kids at home, you would probably be looting too. In their minds these businesses are owned by rich people who can recover but at this very moment they need food and essentials. It’s not right but it was bound to happen. Desperation has become very real.
With us moving into Winter the reality is things will get worse. We will see our numbers increase significantly. Things will be even more dire. Regulations will have to be revisited. I think they should allow online sales for non-essential items. This will help a lot of small business and big ones.
A massive clothing retailer in South Africa has asked for bail out assistance. We don’t know when they will open stores again. On Level 4 we can buy essential winter items. A lot of this becomes grey areas for me. What is essential and what is not. What I consider essential might not be what government considers essential (this list is probably extensive and we disagree on most of it 😂😂😂😂! With the ban on cigarette sales the country is losing millions every day, loss of jobs in this sector are now unnecessarily imminent. This is our first month. While I am really happy that our death rate is so low, the daily reality of the poor, who are going to increase in this economy fills me with much trepidation.
Since Level 4 people some people seem to think the lockdown has been lifted and have been acting like it. It’s selfish and disgusting. Follow the rules. It’s not that damn hard. I’m locked in so I have zero sympathy for you wanting to go to the store every second day to get yummy stuff to eat. There are people with no food; spare a thought for them. Contribute more to charities and less to your stomach. I’m no longer binging. I actually feel guilty sometimes knowing that some of my fellow South African’s have nothing to eat. Please people, adhere to lockdown. You are going to be the reason we are in lockdown till December at this rate dammit!!
Look at the increased infections in the provinces like the Western Cape where some (a lot) people have been disregarding the lockdown rules, social distancing etc. Their infection rate is double that of the province that has the second highest infections! MINDBLOWN! Not. 😑 There is some talk around the fact that they’ve done more testing than the other provinces so Im going to be checking that out. Love studying the data.
Remember you might be okay, but you bring those germs home! You might infect little ones, old folk and immunocompromised people like me. We are supposed to be in this together. Some simple changes can be made like having only 1 day a week that you visit the store. Make a list so that you aren’t wandering around aimlessly. Get in and get out. This is not an outing for you. This is not a place to hang out with your friend under guise of shopping! At one store 24 employees were tested positive and you were meandering around in there? No mam. You need to limit your exposure. Period.
The shame! Yes, I’m judging you. You are there to buy essential items and go home! Learn to ration what you have. Oh, you ran out of chips and chocolates? Well damn, there are people with NO FOOD so have several seats. It’s a good time to teach your kids to ration. Help them grow into self-aware and world aware adults. Things have changed. Children can adapt quite well if you put the right things in place. Take time to explain it to them. Explain the thinking behind it. But at the end of the day it’s us adults who can’t adapt. There is no better time than now to work on yourself. You have the time you didn’t before. All those things you put off because you didn’t have the time? Well now you do.
Let’s work together. We’re all confused by rules and mentally teetering. We are all struggling but there are some who are struggling even more. SHARE! Share your coping mechanisms. I’d love to hear about them. Vent! Come here and vent like a complete crazy person. It’s okay, I’m crazy too. Remain anonymous. Most importantly, especially at a time like this, you do not have to be alone. Hiiiiiiiii I’m here! Not like I have any pressing engagements 😂😂😂 If I wasn’t immunocompromised, I would be out there helping feed people. If you can, please offer your services. Let’s start making a meaningful difference. I know of a lot of people who have big projects you can join. Hit me up for details on this. If you’re not South African but would like to help I can put you in touch with various charities as well.
Stay safe everyone. Remember we are in this together and only united can we beat this evil beast. Please adhere to lockdown rules. Apply social distancing wherever you go. This is one thing we are sharing as the world at the same time. It’s morbidly amazing. We are all having to conform to a new way of life. I never thought that this would be the “New World Order”. A germ. However, we are living the same lives no matter where we are. The sanitising the quarantines and all the emotions and all the challenges and how we are trying to adapt. In a weird way, the world has never been closer.
I hope this gave you something to think about and I’d love some of your thoughts on this one or perhaps you want to share what lockdown is in your part of world. Become part of my lockdown commumity!
ONE LOVE! ✌😷