Photos | A look back at the pandemic in SA to mark World Photography Day

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Empty streets in Johannesburg after the country went on hard lockdown on March 26 2020. Photo: Rosetta Msimango
Empty streets in Johannesburg after the country went on hard lockdown on March 26 2020. Photo: Rosetta Msimango


Whether black and white or colour, a photograph has the power to take its audience on a journey that transcends space and time.

World Photography Day, which is celebrated on August 19, is said to be a celebration of the art, craft, science and history of photography.

For multimedia journalist Rosetta Msimango, photography is a means of educating, informing and changing people’s narratives without having to speak.

They say:

Many stories are told through words, but not enough are captured. This is why photography is a pivotal part of storytelling as it captures each story differently – over and beyond words.

Msimango adds: “Photography is the way I experience the world and how I tell stories. Through it, I believe and feel I’m an advocate for a certain cause. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I know it’s a cliche, but everyone understands that pictures are timeless.”

Seasoned photographer Tebogo Letsie says photography, for him, is about permanently freezing a moment in life and immortalising it for as long as time allows.

“It is a tool that evokes the mind and sharpens fading memories by taking them back a few minutes to many decades back,” he says.

READ | Ruth Motau: When passion becomes the job ‘I have a responsibility to tell stories’

World Photography Day will this year be celebrated under the theme of pandemic lockdown through the lens.

South Africa has left the days of lockdown behind after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the end of the national state of disaster in April.

Ramaphosa at the time said: 

The declaration of a state of disaster was a response to a global health crisis that posed a grave threat to the lives and the wellbeing of our people. There is no doubt that such a response was necessary under these circumstances.

This was the conclusion of 750 days under various alert level lockdowns.

READ | Veteran photographer Mike Mzileni ‘shaped careers and impacted people’s lives’

City Press photographers sifted through their archives to select the following images that paint a picture of life during the global Covid-19 pandemic:

Residents of Zandspruit, Gauteng, filled the streets 21 days into lockdown on April 15 2020, saying it’s far better to be outdoors to avoid the spread of Covid-19 because the houses are cramped. Photo: Rosetta Msimango
An elderly woman is swabbed during the Covid-19 scanning and testing in Diepsloot on May 8 2020. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
Mokete Modibane disinfecting Rebongwe Primary School in Meadowlands, Soweto, a few weeks after the country is put under lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 on May 28 2020. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
Health workers at Nasrec Expo Centre, which had been turned into a quarantine and isolation site for patients with Covid-19 on July 3 2020. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
Alexandra township residents embarked on a clean-up of Pan Africa Shopping Centre after it was looted and vandalised following the unrest in July 2021. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
SA National Defence Force members patrolling Alexandra township to help enforce Covid-19 regulations on July 15 2021. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
Since the beginning of the lockdown, South Africans have been urged to observe social distancing and remain indoors, but this has proven to be impossible in some communities due to the socioeconomic realities facing them. Photo: Rosetta Msimango

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