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No food, no money, no job — how can we stay indoors? ask Brakpan residents

People are out and about in Tsakane despite the Coivd-19 lockdown.
People are out and about in Tsakane despite the Coivd-19 lockdown.
Image: GroundUp/Kimberly Mutandiro

The Covid-19 lockdown in Tsakane township, Brakpan, is not obvious at first sight. People walk or stand in groups with no masks or gloves.

Young people play in the streets and the park. Warm food outlets in the township are busier than ever. Owners say business has gone up since the closure of restaurants at the local shopping mall.

When police or the army patrol, people quickly disappear into their homes only to reappear when the authorities are out of sight.

Mamsi Mokoena, who owns a fish and chips outlet, said she normally struggled to sell enough, but “the lockdown has turned out to be a blessing in disguise”.

“Life in the township is difficult staying indoors ... There is no food at home. I’m hungry as we speak. My family is also complaining of hunger,” said James Dhlamini, who was standing on the street hoping someone would hire him to do gardening for a day. “An anxious man can do nothing else but stand on the streets and make a plan for his family to eat.

“I haven’t been able to pick up any jobs since the lockdown started,” he said.

His family only had enough mealie meal to cook pap that night and he was worried about what they would eat in the days to come.

Resident Mike Simelane said: “We chase our children out on the streets because if they stay indoors they will end up finishing the small food we have stored for the very same lockdown.”

Simelane said he cannot remember when he last had a job. He relies on his children’s grant money to buy the family food.

Mpho Madonsela, one of a group of youths hanging out on a street corner, said: “There are more than 10 of us staying inside a four-roomed house. It’s not easy staying indoors, much as we want to stay under lockdown it won’t work.”

His family lives in his grandmother’s house. He said his mother applied for a house many years ago, but she was still waiting. During the day they normally spend time on the streets to ease the tension at home.

“How does one stay indoors inside a one-roomed shack? On top of that my company said they will not be paying us while we sit at home,” said Muzi Mabena, who lives in an informal settlement in extension 6.

He works as a sales agent and is paid on a commission basis. His monthly commission had not yet been finalised before the lockdown and he has not been paid.

“Much as l may want to stay safe from contracting the coronavirus, l can’t. Maybe if l had money and a real house things would be different,” said Mabena. “People will end up stealing to see themselves through the lockdown. That is what is going to happen.”

-This article was first published by GroundUp.