Before the lockdown, Veliswa Kalima* says shopping for food was a breeze – even though she uses a cane to walk and has no car.
“I live in Mdantsane, and the nearest mall is the Mdantsane City shopping complex. It has all the major supermarkets and a taxi rank for your convenience. Before all this [lockdown] I would take one taxi and get there – luckily, we have amaphela, those small cars as taxis, so even though my leg has failed me, getting into them isn’t tricky,” the 62-year-old tells us.
However, since the lockdown commenced in March, things, as expected, have changed quite a bit. “Now, I stand at the stop waiting for a taxi for about 20 minutes – they’re not as readily available as before. And then when I get to the mall, I can’t walk in as usual – now we have to tell the security guard where we’re going, which shop, then join the queue [that’s always long] outside the building.
“Anyone who’s from East London will tell you how moody the weather is here, sometimes it starts raining, and woe unto you if you don’t have an umbrella or protective gear because we’re all waiting outside. Sometimes, there’s a huge military vehicle that joins the police officers that are always there to make sure all rules are being obeyed. All this can be very intimidating to someone who has never experienced this before, or maybe just confusing.
“When it’s finally your turn to enter the mall, there’s someone at the door who sprays sanitiser on your hands. When you walk into the store, same thing, it’s a system.”
Veliswa says although it has taken time for her and others to get used to how things are now, she’s grateful the government is taking precautionary measures.
“It might sound like I’m complaining, I’m not. I think this is a great way to keep people safe and educate them about this pandemic. And you know what? More people now care about their hygiene, even those who didn’t really take it into consideration before – as a former nursing sister, this makes me so happy. Let’s face it, the entire world is affected by the coronavirus, and even though we are a third-world country, our leadership doesn’t show that at all.
“I pray for our leadership and our people, we will overcome this. We are a praying nation with good leadership, for once – we will not fail,” she concludes.