LockdownSA: last minute frenzy
Most shops in the malls were only allowing no more than 50 people, and 15 in the case of smaller stores.
Shoppers in Pretoria East were out in their droves, scrambling for what was left on the shelves in the supermarkets.
But people especially flocked to the liquor stores following the announcement that buying alcohol during the next three weeks was off the cards.
The staff at the Tops in Wapadrand were running around to restock empty shelves, which within minutes again ran empty.
Frantic shoppers jostled and pushed each other out of the way with trolleys filled to the brim.
They especially stocked-up with a variety of beers and wines. Queues snaked around the shops with people seemingly not minding paying-up for their favourite drinks.
One man paid his more than R4 000 bill with a smile: “You never know whether this lockdown will last for more than three weeks; so its better to be safe than sorry.”
Wapadrand resident Yvette Taljaardt, said while she was not stockpiling on alcohol, she wanted to ensure that she had some of her favourite drinks at hand during the next three weeks.
“I saw on the news that we cannot buy alcohol. That is fine and will survive without it. We will also all be fine during this time, although it won’t be easy. But this will all be over before we know it.”
Taljaart said she was not bulk buying, as the shops would be open and stocked: “I am mostly at this stage stocking on the basics, such as bread and milk.”
Owner of Wapadrand Spar Henri van der Watt said bread was flying off the shelves. But as his shop was baking its own bread, he promised that there would always be bread in stock.
“We will assess the situation and bake accordingly. The shop will remain open from early in the morning to late afternoon, so there is no need for frantic buying.”
As a community supermarket, Taljaart is going out of his way to assist the elderly and a service to deliver food for them during the lockdown, free of charge, is in the pipeline.
Sonja Vermeulen, one of the shoppers with a filled trolley, said as it was uncertain times, she would rather stock-up now. “It also makes me feel a bit in control during this time which is totally out of our control,” she said.
Meanwhile, shops at the Equestria Centre also had their hands full to keep the shelves stocked. It was especially shops such as the pharmacy and the Woolworths which had to cope with scores of shoppers.
Car guards were meanwhile cashing-in while they were able to, in the busy parking lot. Martin Skosana said he had no idea what the next few weeks hold for him and his family as he had no prospects of an income.
Centurion and surrounding areas were also crowded as people did their last minute shopping.
At Centurion Mall the shops were busy, as were the spaces between, as parents and children in tow, went about stocking up.
Lungelo Shibambu said: “Only this morning did we realise we might not have everything. We have the essentials, but we realised the time is a stressful one, we might go through food faster than normal.”
The mother of three said it would also be a lonely time, and thus she decided to get more games to keep her children busy.
“Having kids with as much energy as mine means there must be enough to use it up. We will be on top of each other in our flat, so while I have my books to read and will watch some TV, theirs is mainly playing.”
Her boys are aged 7, 10 and 11, and spent most of their time outdoors. They would literally be “jailed in”, she said, because, living in flats meant they have no garden space to play, even alone.
Others said they were coming to enjoy company and eating out for the last time in a while, as restaurants would close down. One mother of two girls said: “I will be forced to cook every meal, every day. No more bringing them to Spur, ordering what we want while I relax. It will be a good time together, I must confess, but one we will have to adjust too quickly, as we are not used to the confines of not visiting friends and family, or going out.”
Tiisetso Nxumalo and his teenage son said they were on their way to play soccer at the nearby SuperSport ground, and stopped at Jean Crossing to grab snacks.
“We do this two times a week and every Saturday. We love our outdoors, we love mingling with other like minded people. The thought of not being able to do this is scary, but doable.”
Psychologist Nancy Venter said it was more a mind issue than anything, that had people up in arms: “It is in effect not such a long time. It is the circumstances around which we must do it that is playing on people’s minds. As a people we are scared of the unknown, and this is an unknown.”
Venter said the country would pull through it and come out better at the other end, however long it eventually was” “We need to understand what we are dealing with, do what we must to contain the spread. The virus does not move on it’s own, people carry it around.
“If one has it and keeps it to themselves, they are unlikely to develop secondary infection or pass it on, and therein lies the message we should be spreading.”