Two men were commanded by soldiers to roll home after they were caught in the street with no reason to be out. Picture: Leon Knipe/African News Agency (ANA).
Two men were commanded by soldiers to roll home after they were caught in the street with no reason to be out. Picture: Leon Knipe/African News Agency (ANA).

This why some people are ignoring the lockdown laws

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Apr 3, 2020

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Durban - As South Africa enters its second week of lockdown, videos and pictures have been circulating of people defying the lockdown imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Social anthropologists and psychologists have offered explanations why this is the case, and one reason being offered is poverty.

University of the Free State social anthropologist Professor Pearl Sithole suggested it was related to poverty as some people had to live in a backyard room with six to 12 people, and in informal settlements there was no access to running water.

“It's a kind of catch-22 situation,” she said.

Sithole said people could not be completely blamed for the situation.

“South Africa unfortunately had put itself in a situation where local and national leaders were not respected by the community,” she said. “People don't trust the system as they believe the system doesn't see them as human beings.”

Clinical psychologist Cheryl Sol said if people did not buy into a situation, they did not see it as serious.

“If you haven’t come across anyone with Covid-19, and only a few have died, then it’s seen as sensationalism.

“If you're unable or unwilling to adapt to sudden change and restrictions, this is more of a personality thing,” she said.

According to Sol, some people baulked against perceived authoritarianism or external authority.

“Some people have such high anxiety that they disconnect from the situation and will be going about what is seen as regular activities as a form of anxiety regulation.

“People who are more extroverted and need others will battle more than those who take some comfort in solitude and are already adapted for that.”

Sol felt these were early days and

that people were working hard to be positive.

“The bigger issues are the growing sense of loss of a way of life, an illusion of the future as fairly certain, separation from loved ones, not being able to touch and hug others or visit your elderly relatives,” Sol said.

The people who were the most vulnerable, she said, were those who did not have strong support systems and had pre-existing poor coping skills, anxiety problems, obsessive-compulsive or other serious psychiatric disorders.

“As people become overwhelmed by the financial impact of the situation, the risk of suicide becomes stronger," she said.

Sol advised that there were ways to deal with being "on lockdown".

“There’s a lot out there on social media, etc, on how to cope during this time – create structure, exercise, keep in contact, meditate or do mindfulness exercises, catch up with chores, spend time with your children.

“Mental health is seen as an essential service and most professionals continue to work, mainly remotely by telephone or online counselling. There are also a number of other services which offer free online counselling at the moment,” she said.

Daily News

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