I’m based in Marshalltown [in Johannesburg central]. I haven’t been outside much since the lockdown, mainly because being outside gives me anxiety. I did go out to the shops on day two of the lockdown though and there was this gloomy atmosphere; it’s definitely is not business as usual in the CBD. As I drove past a few blocks of flats, I’d see people standing on their balconies and others looking through their windows, it gave such a feeling of imprisonment. So people in my area seem to be trying to adhere to the lockdown regulations but to what extent I’m not sure because I have heard police sirens a couple of times.
This lockdown will have serious financial implications for many city dwellers. The vendors that sell fresh fruit and vegetables on Kerk Street were not operating on Saturday [28 March] due to the lockdown as are many other street vendors in the CBD (P.S I’m not sure if they are working today).
I spoke to my brother who is in Doornkop, Soweto, and he said that there normally isn’t much traffic in his area but one can sense that there is something in the air. There are still some people who are not taking the lockdown seriously. He still sees some people gathered up in street corners and not practicing social distancing at all. Then there are people who are well aware of what is going on and trying their best to share their knowledge with other people.
There isn’t much police presence because the police are responding to hotspot areas and whistle-blower reports of people not adhering to social distancing. From what he has gathered in his circles; there hasn’t been a heavy financial impact yet because people have received their normal monthly salaries for this month. In terms of his own employer the concern is that they won’t be getting the planned annual increases but on the bright side the promise is that the employer has secured a reserve such that they will get their full salaries for the next three months.
The biggest challenge is the uncertainty because no one knows when this crisis will end.
My sister who is in mining community in Carletonville says there hasn’t been any police visibility in their area of town but the community seems to be adhering to the lockdown regulations. The supermarkets are adhering to the social distancing rules and she has noticed that young people are taking it upon themselves to assist the elderly in acquiring the essentials so they don’t have to leave the house. She noted how kids seem to be more clued up on the precautions that need to be taken than most adults that she knows. There is worry on how long this lockdown could potentially last because as it stands now the mining company she works for has informed them that they will be paid for only two weeks of April and the remainder of the month will be unpaid leave.
Image from Brand South Africa