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Lockdown in Langa

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From Langa to Clifton from Alexandra to Sandton we share people’s experiences of lockdown in their neighbourhoods.

Property writer And Langa resident Yonela Sinqu tells us about lockdown in Langa.

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.

This tap serves ten families in Langa. Picture: Yonela Sinqu

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.

Children chat in a Langa before Ramaphosa’s announcement of a nationwide lockdown. Picture: Yonela Sinqu

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.

Over the years means of survival has evolved from just putting food on the table to affording a gigabyte of data, not to mention how many gadgets one can handle in a hour.

Traders sell their goods in Langa before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 21-day lockdown. Picture: Yonela Sinqu

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.”

Taxi drivers queue to load passengers days before the nationwide lockdown. Picture: Yonela Sinqu

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.

YONELA supports: 

“Masifundeni Educare , a creche for low-income parents in the area, welcomes parents who are not able to pay for childcare. They provide nutrition for these children they care for daily. Even during lockdown they still provide a meal or two for the registered children. Apart from that, they offer aftercare for those in school assisting with homework and also providing a meal for them. If you would like to make a donation to Masifundeni Educare, you can contact them on 0833104371.”

* If you have a lockdown story to share from your hood please share.

Better still if you have a way our followers can reach out to organisations helping the poorer and more vulnerable communities in need please let us know.

You can email vivian.warby@inl.co.za

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