This man was walking the street in a Cape Town suburb after the start of the national lockdown at midnight on Thursday. After being searched he was told by law enforcement officers to make his way home. Video: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Some Capetonians not heeding the national lockdown call

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Mar 28, 2020

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Cape Town - Despite the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa for a national lockdown which began on Friday, it was business as usual for many Capetonians.

Whether going about their normal day, visiting friends, drinking on the side of the road or simply going to the local store, some seem to not have heeded the call to stay indoors. It was, however, unclear if the hundreds of people out on the streets formed part of essential services as pronounced by the president earlier this week.

During his special address earlier this week, Ramaphosa urged South Africans to, “do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period - what is known as flattening the curve of infections”.

On Friday, Elizabeth April from Delft, who was walking with a friend in the area, said she worked as a call centre agent and was allowed to stay home during the 21-day lockdown.

“Yesterday was our last day at work, but I have things to do as we only got paid two days ago. I understand that it is not a holiday, but I needed to get out and do things for myself and my children,” she said.

April said she could not stay indoors for the duration as it could “get boring at times”.

Security guard Xolani Peteni from Khayelitsha said he was frustrated he could not get to work due to a lack of transport and was fearful that he could lose money for time not spent at work.

“For us, it is no work, no pay. I was supposed to be at work by 6am; it is now after 8am and I am still struggling to get to work. I am over two hours late and I will not be compensated for the time lost. I understand that the taxi operators have decided to down tools as they refuse to operate under the conditions stipulated by the government. They said they cannot transport seven people as opposed to 15 people at a time.

“For them it would be a loss and we understand that but we are also losing out. The government needs to sort this out as soon as possible otherwise it will be more than just the virus that is a problem but also more poverty and more unemployment,” he said.

In Eerste River, hundreds of commuters who stood stranded on the side of the road due to a lack of transport, but also had no valid permits to move around, were advised by law enforcement officials to “go home or ask employers to send transport to fetch” them.

“We only heard last night that taxis would not be operating. I have been standing at this bus stop for over an hour and I am beginning to grow more and more impatient.

“The lockdown is a good step by the government, but in order for us to win this thing, we all need to come to the party. Transport for us is an essential service, otherwise how do we get to the hospitals to provide our essential service to patients?”

Mishek Kambule, a Zimbabwean who lives in Philippi, stood in a long queue to enter the Goal supermarket.

“My wife and I did not have money. This is the only time we could come out to buy food for us and the children,” he said. “We know there is a lockdown and the virus is serious, but we also need to eat.”

Weekend Argus

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