Due to the legacy of apartheid, social distancing remains a luxury for township residents - especially those staying in informal settlements. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Due to the legacy of apartheid, social distancing remains a luxury for township residents - especially those staying in informal settlements. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19: Social distancing remains a luxury for township residents

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Mar 30, 2020

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Cape Town - Due to the legacy of apartheid, social distancing remains a luxury for township residents - especially those staying in informal settlements.

This was evident as the City's law enforcement officers patrolled different areas and found that in some informal settlements there was more non-compliance when it came to the Covid-19 lockdown regulations than in more affluent neighbourhoods.

The streets of Langa provided a reflection of some other townships, where children continued to play in the streets and small businesses were running as usual.

Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education Deputy Director Mazibuko Kanyiso Jara said township residents were willing to comply with the lockdown regulations, but their conditions made it difficult. People were also paid this weekend, forcing residents to go out in large numbers to get their money and go shopping.

“In a shack, physical distancing, self-isolation and safe family games are quite impossible. People are forced on to the streets to look for food. Domestic violence and other tensions will also rise. All these conditions will spill over on to the streets,” he said.

Jara said middle-class areas had bigger yards, rooms and well-stocked fridges. They had internet access, DStv, Netflix, board games and so on. The lockdown is expected to be easier for the middle and upper classes.

“The army should roll out field hospitals and tents for safe, healthy accommodation in vacant public land,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said people had been out in their numbers and were not taking the regulations seriously enough, although in some areas there had been strict compliance.

“This is not about a law being enforced on people, it’s a regulation to be followed for one's own benefit.”

Smith said people were not practising social distancing, particularly in queues at shops.

LangaCAN community organisation’s Mzikhona Mgedle said it had been business as usual in the township. People were still moving around and social distance was not being practised.

People were still shopping, lining up in long queues at ATMs and drinking in public without any attempt at social distancing.

Langa resident Desmond Hendricks said: “We do want to follow the rules but I don't think the government made enough provision for us.

“We have been standing in long queues at banks because not all of them had money. If we had food and more support, we would stay in our homes more.”

@Sukainaish

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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