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Covid-19: Relief as Joburg shoppers are 'behaving in a civil manner'

Ellen Nyandoro takes a break after doing her lockdown grocery shopping at Rosebank Mall.
Ellen Nyandoro takes a break after doing her lockdown grocery shopping at Rosebank Mall.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng/TimesLIVE

Organising a shopping buddy to stock up on groceries proved unnecessary for a Johannesburg woman on Wednesday, as the anticipated payday queues failed to materialise at large centres.

At the Shoprite supermarket in Sophiatown, staff were seen restocking in every second aisle ahead of an expected influx of customers - one day before the Covid-19 lockdown.

Giesel Hasna told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that she chose to wake up early to beat the usual long queues at the store. “I know a lot of people will be doing last-minute shopping for the lockdown today because it's payday”, she said.

She brought her sister with her, who was pushing her own separate trolley.

“I am glad there is now a limit on how many items a person can buy so that food doesn't run out”, she said. “But, I still need to make sure that my house doesn't run out of food any time soon”, said Hasna.

Wearing a mask and gloves, she emphasised the importance of taking all precautions during the pandemic.

“I stay with little kids in my house, so I really can't take any chances, especially when I come to the supermarket.”

At Rosebank Mall, Ellen Nyandoro, 45, was relieved to find she could get what she needed, without long queues.

“My boss allowed me to come shopping early in the morning. I’m a maid and it’s going to be hard for us to just come out. So I made sure I bought what I need,” she said.

Her trolley was filled with a bag of maize meal, large vegetable bags, toilet paper and other necessities. “This is my normal shopping. These are the things that normally last me a month,” Nyandoro said.

She had expected to see a wave of panic buyers, something that didn’t happen.

“For the first time I’m seeing people displaying confidence in what the president says. They are so calm. I watch news, so I know the past weeks people have been stocking up, but now they are behaving in a civil manner,” she said.

At big supermarkets like Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Food Lovers Market and Game, the queues were normal.

Picking up the last bag of pasta at one shop, Wayne Jacobs, 30, said he was glad he could still shop throughout the lockdown.

“I don’t usually do groceries, but lately I took it upon myself to come to shops for the family. I don’t want them to be at risk,” he said, before joking, “I’m also just relieved I can still come get some more pasta.”

He said he was surprised that consumers were on their best behaviour, after the panic buying seen in previous days.

“I thought it would be packed man. But it’s so calm, it’s really mature of South Africans. Or maybe it’s because the people who shop in these parts of town have stockpiled a week ago. Either way I’m happy things are running smoothly,” Jacobs said.

The alcohol section at both the Pick & Pay and Game these reporters visited were almost empty.

Lillian Mokoena, who was strolling about the aisles, said she intended to stock up before the lockdown.

“I cant imagine being locked up at home and I can’t even take a sip. I’m excited because my favourites are still available. I’ve done my normal groceries and now I’m going to get the booze.  Having to work from home is a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s better than getting sick,” Mokoena said.

Spotted pushing a trolley full of 5l bottles of mineral water in a shopping centre on Tuesday, Rahma Abdulayi said she was not taking any chances.

“As an overly cautious person I naturally prepare for extraordinary situations, and this is an extraordinary situation.

“I usually get my bottles refilled, but with all these restrictions I’m not sure how that is going to work,” said Abdulayi.

The mother of four explained that having all her children at home meant that groceries ran out a lot quicker, which is why she had chosen to buy her groceries in bulk.

“With the lockdown starting soon, I have no doubt that the food in my house and in the shops is going to run out even quicker,” she said.

Another shopper, Jeanne Butoyi, told TimesLIVE that she had chosen to prioritise the purchase of meat and toilet paper as these two items seem to run out quickly.

“I've even stopped looking for the cheapest trays of meat, I just want to make sure that my family and I do not run out.

“I had already stocked up on my cleaning detergents last week because I knew this was going to happen,” said Butoyi.

She said she had been to a food retail store every day since Friday and had to stand in a long queue each time.

A shopper who has chosen to go against common practice is Mickey Mjali, who had less than 10 items in his basket.

“I plan on using my trips to the grocery shop as a break from having to be in the house the whole day. The lockdown is 21 days long, but I trust the grocery stores to stay fully stocked up,” said Mjali.

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