What lockdown is like in the townships

Young people at wi-fi hot spots.

Residents of the townships are flouting the national lockdown rules as they walk the streets unperturbed.

Close to two weeks after the 21-day lockdown began at midnight on Thursday March 26, groups of youths in cars blasting loud music could be seen on the road. Other youngsters sat minding their own business at the wi-fi hot spots.

The lockdown proved to be a challenge for many, especially women in the communities. Not only were supermarkets and local food stores packed to the rafters and some closed due to the lockdown, there were other challenges like water, food and money that people were anxious about.

Many people were forced to take matters into their own hands, ignoring the rules laid down. They struggled with social distancing or self isolating as they sought to get basic needs.

In the midst of it all, jokes are being thrown around about the virus with all sorts of names, such as Toyota Corolla, coco, khuveve.

Arguably, displaying some stupidity and ignorance, some told this paper how they were prepared to go to hospital or endure getting ill if they had to.

People exposed themselves to the virus by walking freely on the streets, some drinking in their usual spots, while others queued in long winding lines for food.

Standing in a long queue at Harare Spar, Nomonde Rhilityana said; “If I have to live in a house without food, then I am prepared to buy this car. Even if they changed it to a Mercedes Benz, I will buy it. The planning for the lockdown was bad. That is if it was planned at all,” she said.

However, she said, she had no problem staying home if she had all the necessary supplies.

A Site C woman had to walk a long way looking for water because there wasn’t any in their Taiwan informal settlement.

Nomangesi Qakaba was not happy with the lockdown arrangements.

On the day, she woke with zilch water in a communal tap.

When I asked if she was not scared of the virus, she responded by saying: “I am scared. I have been following the stats and other countries about it. But what must one do in the situation we are in? There is not a drop of water so how am I going to stay the whole day indoors. The government is making a mockery of the whole issue,” she said.

Young people at wi-fi hot spots saw no need to adhere to the restrictions.

One young girl in Gugulethu said that the only way to control young people would be to dish out free data to all.

It’s clear the first few days of the lockdown had not been easy for anyone, least of all the police and municipal law enforcement.

In Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Langa, where this paper monitored the situation for two days, it seemed police could care less.

They were driving as usual, even passing throngs of people.

The only roadblock seen was on the N2, just behind the BM Section informal settlement, in Khayelitsha.