‘We are clueless and afraid’ — township people

2020-03-18 17:19
Thokozile Mntungwa of France said many people in townships don’t know much about Covid-19 and how to prevent it. PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

Thokozile Mntungwa of France said many people in townships don’t know much about Covid-19 and how to prevent it. PHOTO: moeketsi mamane

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While many people in the country are doing everything to avoid contracting Covid-19, residents of Pietermaritzburg townships have no idea how to prevent it.

At the weekend, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Covid-19 pandemic a national disaster and ordered a shutdown of schools and other measures to curb the spread.

On Tuesday, The Witness visited areas such as France, Nyamazane and Sobantu townships to see how people were dealing with the issue.

In these areas, people were still going about their lives, visiting each other as if everything was normal.

Most of them said they’ve heard about the disease, but they really don’t know what it is and how they can avoid catching the virus.

Thokozile Mntungwa of France said she heard about it on the news and would really appreciate more information.

“To be honest we don’t know much about it, I heard from someone that you need to wash hands with one of those reddish liquids [disinfectant] from hospitals but where are we going to get it?” asked Mntungwa.

“We don’t even know what it is. We might even step on this nunu by mistake,” she added. “We are clueless and afraid. We don’t even have proper toilets around here.”

Tana Shange, also from France, said she relied on her children for information about prevention methods as they were being taught about it at school. “The sad thing is that other people were still thinking this thing is a joke, taking pictures of themselves covered in plastics and other things for social media purposes but this is serious,” said Shange.

“We would really like to be educated about this virus because now we are afraid to even go to town because we have to use taxis.”

Zandile Nxumalo, Nombuso Dlamini, Nomathemba Mthembu, Phumzile Mchunu and Zodwa Memela — all vendors at Slangspruit Primary at Nyamazane — said they were hit hard as schools are closing today.

“All we know is that we have to wash our hands regularly and we have been doing that as we sell foods and other things to school children, but other than that we don’t know much about it,” said Nxumalo.

“We feed our families through the money we make from selling at the school and we don’t know how we are going to provide for our families. It’s going to be a long month for us,” said Mthembu.

Councillors from the areas said they were doing something to help the communities and were hoping to get more direction on how to help residents in today’s Msunduzi special full council meeting.

Councillor Sbongile Mncwango of Ward 13, which covers both France and Nyamazane, said they were still trying to come up with a strategy to educate residents, bearing in mind gathering of more than 100 are banned.

“We are going to meet again on Saturday. We are definitely doing something,” said Mncwango.

Councillor Sandile Dlamini of Sobantu said it was important that as community leaders they disseminate correct information, although they are not experts.

“We have been meeting with small groups of people to teach them about basic things, but hopefully from [today’s] council meeting we will have a proper strategy and good guidance on dealing with this issue.”


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