Locked down in the Vaal

By Mduduzi Tshabalala
2 April 2020

There are a lot of things that are missing from what our failing government has done, and also loopholes in what they have said. Looking at how the situation is unravelling here in the Vaal, the number of infected people may not seem very high, according to what is reported in the news. Levai Mbatha is one of the local clinics situated in Evaton (south of Johannesburg in Gauteng). It has been alleged and reported on Thetha FM (a local community radio station) that a doctor who had been exposed to COVID-19 may have in turn exposed 30 other people while working at the clinic.

The fear of the coronavirus outbreak is also something of the unknown here. With the lack of resources and genuine government people combating this pandemic, it will be a tough battle filled with a turbulence of obstacles ahead. Many people in the Vaal are formally unemployed or are self-employed. Most run small businesses and at this time of a lockdown, I saw many still hovering the streets early this week, showing signs of discomfort and be uneasy with staying at home.

What frustrated me the most is how elderly people have been left to fend for themselves. Many of the elderly were queuing to buy food at local grocery stores, even though they are the most vulnerable to coronavirus in our communities. At least it would be better if the government could assist in delivering food parcels to the elderly people and orphaned children. To properly make sure people stay off the streets, it is more progressive to put delivery measures in place and some of the big grocery stores are already doing it. This is another way of how we should be utilising modern technology to do the right thing.

One of my greatest concerns is waste pickers, who must also be recipients of our COVID-19 mass action safety campaign. This is because all the mask and hand gloves and other materials they may have the virus will end up in trash bins and eventually at land fills. This is where these valuable people dig deep every day to earn their livelihoods.

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