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Guest contributor

Glenvista is a suburb in the south of Johannesburg. It’s 5.36 square km in area with a population of 10 177. On ordinarily days, the Glenvista community is busy and very interactive especially in the morning with people going to work or heading to the gym or taking children to school.

Since the dawn of the lockdown, it’s all gone very quiet. Kliprivier Road is the busiest road in my community in the morning and afternoon but now you can only see two or three cars in the morning and nothing during the day and you will see two or three cars in the afternoon. The nice part is that we don’t have the drama of the military, SAPS or metro police – this shows people adhered to the call and they’re taking the responsibility for their health and that of their family seriously.

The shopping centres are open, thanks to Checkers and Woolworths we are able to access basic needs for our family. The pharmacies are also open if the community needs sanitisers, medication and so forth. Generally speaking, the shopping centre is unusual because other businesses are closed and that brings a sense of sadness to local businesses of the area. At the moment you cannot read the sense of stress from neighbours because everyone is indoors 24 hours a day and you only see some of them at the local supermarkets I mentioned above. The filling stations are open around the clock even though petrol and diesel is not a major need because everyone is locked down.

The area looks unusual because the movement of parents taking kids to school and kindergarten is not there. The culture of dogs barking in the morning to helpers who are coming to the area is not there. The unfortunate part is that you can’t get the opinion of residents because everyone minds his own business. Maybe the community feels well and protected by the quarantine for the sake of their children’s and families’ health. At the same time we worry about the future of the economy and health of different communities, including mine.

In other parts of the country, specifically the Mpumalanga province, the townships and neighbouring farms’ responses to the 21 days’ shutdown is diverse. On the farms, it is business as usual – they believe that the virus will never affect them, they see it as something too far to reach them. They go to work and come back to their homes as usual. No police and soldiers as it happens in other parts of the country, and I’m not sure if that’s how it has to be. 

In the townships, kids don’t go to school and they take that as a bonus school holiday because they wake up and fill the streets to play. Some go to the township supermarkets to buy bread and milk because their tuckshops are closed. In a minute, you will hear them running back home because they’re being chased by the police and they don’t understand why that’s happening.

In my view I think it was very important for the Department of Education to give learners lessons about the virus prior to the closing of schools for them to understand the importance of staying indoors. Let’s hope as days goes by we will all understand and stay at home as our president said.