From Langa to Clifton from Alexandra to Sandton we share people’s experiences of lockdown in their neighbourhoods.
While the rest of the world is concerned about how many new Covid-19 infections we’re facing and what’s for dinner during lockdown, spare a thought for the men and women in Langa.
Yesterday was Sassa grant collection day here and the elderly had to queue outside pay points for hours before heading to even longer queues to enter a store. Only to find empty grocery shelves. Some even returning home to even emptier cupboards. And none able to spare a few cents for a hand sanitiser.
Before lockdown the streets were still bustling in Langa as though the virus had not landed in our country. In one of the areas, a small tap serves ten families. Wash your hands, social distancing – all difficult when your home is shared with many and there is no running water inside.
During this time of panic where store-bought hand sanitiser takes precedence over a loaf of bread, I am also wondering about the homes of these Sassa grantees.
Covid-19 has brought about a complete new meaning to every neighbourhood. To many children, this is an extended holiday, but to parents here in Langa this is a meal less each day for their children who used to be fed at school. Winter is fast approaching, many young parents relied on their grant to finish paying off their lay-buys at the stores – perhaps a pair of shoes or a jacket for their little one – but instead they are met with locks and dark passageways.
Having been locked down for the announced 21 days I fear many will perish not from the virus, but from isolation, lack of self-worth, demoralisation, humiliation, starvation, frustration, the cold, uncertainty… The list is endless.
It was only day five and while conversing with one of my acquaintances on one of the platforms many take for granted as an everyday talking point, he said: “Please, pretty please, let there be no extension to this 21 days. This lockdown is bringing back bad memories. Memories of when I was unemployed and couldn’t even afford data to chat to you.”
This is one of the few realities of the Covid-19 realities; only a drop in the ocean of the many experiences.
Covid-19 will not be the sole death of our people, but enforced poverty, frustration, dehumanisation will be another contributing factor.
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