A begger covers himself with a blanket while looking for handouts. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
A begger covers himself with a blanket while looking for handouts. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Covid-19: Citizens filling void left by government

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Jul 29, 2020

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The Covid-19 pandemic has seen me change many of my ways - including my attitude towards the poor and homeless. In the past, I made sure that I had some change in my car to pay car guards at shopping centres or the occasional beggar at a traffic light.

These days, I drive around with leftover food or loaves of bread as my means of payment.

Hunger has become one of the main side effects of the pandemic and, in all honesty, it’s one of the main issues where the government has failed us.

I was astonished when Equal Education and two Limpopo schools had to turn to the courts to ensure that 9 million of our country’s hungry children are fed through the National School Nutrition Programme.

The court had to force the Department of Basic Education and eight provincial departments to honour their obligation towards the children.

In the opening to her 56-page judgment, Judge Sulet Potterill said: “The essence of this matter aptly can be captured as ‘for now I ask no more than the justice of eating’.”

In an opinion piece on the subject, Financial Mail editor Rob Rose correctly called it “the most shameful moment in South Africa’s lockdown”.

To make matters worse for the department and its minister, the judge said evidence showed that the undertaking it had given to ensure that the children were fed, was not complied with.

Thus, she said, the court had little choice but to grant a supervisory order in which the minister and her department must report to the court, under oath, the steps they had taken to give effect to the order.

A shameful moment for the department indeed.

It seems to be that the ordinary South Africans are doing more to help one another than the government is doing during difficult this time.

My best discovery this past week was the newly established Facebook group called SA Covid-19 survivors.

Cleb Brent Lindeque, also known as the “Good Things Guy”, started the group earlier this month with the aim of bringing practical and positive news to those who have tested positive for the virus, as well as to all of us who are waiting to be infected.

As someone on the group said, the sad truth about being Covid-19 positive is that it’s a very lonely place.

Lindeque started the group after his mother had tested positive. Despite her age and comorbidities, she survived. He said there should be a message of hope that the number of recoveries exceed the fatalities.

While a bleak picture is painted in the media, Lindeque posts the daily number of recoveries on this group. Through the group, the “front line heroes,” as he calls them, help one another get through the pandemic.

Questions most frequently asked, are about what health products to have on hand and which symptoms to look out for.

People are unsure and they need practical solutions and support through these difficult and uncertain times.

One of the biggest issues is the stigmatisation attached to having tested positive for Covid-19.

Clinical psychologist Erika Basson, who tested positive while her husband and four sons showed mild symptoms, shared her experience on the group.

She said the reality was that virus spread fast. How you got Covid-19 wasn’t really relevant and no one ever knew how they picked it up.

Bassoon said we need to start realising that there was nothing to be ashamed of when you test positive.

So, while I cannot give advice on Covid-19, I can advise everyone to join this group - it’s a true gem.

*For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.

** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za

Pretoria News

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