The good and the bad: Here’s how African countries are trying to flatten the coronavirus curve

A South African Police Service (SAPS) officer arrests a man for not complying with the lockdown regulations in Diepsloot, Johannesburg  (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
A South African Police Service (SAPS) officer arrests a man for not complying with the lockdown regulations in Diepsloot, Johannesburg (PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

As the coronavirus continues with its vicious deadly attack around the world, African governments and police forces have imposed stricter lockdown regulations and a firm hand for those who don’t comply.

Besides doing lengthy prison time, most countries are making violators pay hefty fines, undergo vigorous exercise workouts and at times resort to violence to get the message of staying at home to its citizens.

“Some people may think this disease is something that doesn’t concern them and will never affect them,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said recently in his public address. “That it is something they only read about in newspapers or see reports about on TV. But it is very real, and it poses a great danger to every one of us and to our society.”

South Africa commenced its first day of lockdown on Friday, 27 March. The country is currently in its second week under lockdown and certain people are still battling to come to terms with the restrictions and bans put in place by the government.

According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, there are approximately 17 000 people that’ve been arrested since the beginning of the 21-day lockdown period, News24 reports.

Cape Town has the largest number of reported lockdown transgressions, with a 400% increase in calls to police officials as people have taken the duty of reporting those who don’t comply seriously.

Police officials and the SANDF have also been deployed to communities that’ve been identified as hotspot areas as people continue to gather in large numbers and fail to practice the mandatory social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Cele urged law enforcement officials to be kind when dealing with those people who break the law, but they shouldn’t allow them to do as they wish.

The most recent reported lockdown transgression took place over the weekend in KwaZulu-Natal when a couple decided to get married despite regulations prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people.

The bride and groom, as well as their wedding guests were arrested and charged for breaching the .

KwaZulu-Natal has the most fatalities with seven people reported to have succumbed to the virus so far.

Most African countries commenced their lockdowns on Monday, 30 March, CNBC reports.

Nigeria began its 14-day selective lockdown which focused only on three states namely, Lagos, Abuja and Ogun, according to Aljazeera.

Nollywood actress Funke Akindele, who’s also one of the ambassadors of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) currently educating the public on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, was recently arrested for not adhering to lockdown regulations, Channel24 reports.

The Lagos-based actress decided to throw her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello popularly known as JJC Skillz a birthday party over the weekend at their residential estate. The Lagos state police command was swift to take action and make arrests.

Akindele later shared a video on Instagram defending her actions and claimed that everyone who was at the event had been living in her house for several days.

She was fined ?95 400 (R4 500) and has since apologised and promised to practice social distancing.

Ghana has also put only its cities, Accra and Kumasi under a two-week partial lockdown since 30 March, News24 reports.

Lockdown violators in Ghana have been creative with a fetish priest and three others arrested recently. They were posing as officers enforcing movement restrictions in Kumasi.

The four men unlawfully arrested and detained a Kumasi resident in their vehicle and demanded an amount of ¢100 (R315) for flouting the lockdown regulations.

The victim was rescued by real police officials and the suspects have been detained and charged for extortion while investigations continue.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, however, is singing a different tune. Unlike many African leaders he’s enforcing a mild lockdown with certain exceptions. Opposition leaders from Tanzania have widely criticised the president’s efforts to curb the country from being a coronavirus disaster zone, Bloomberg reports.

Magufuli is still encouraging the public to continue to attend places of worship and claims that the coronavirus is the devil and that it can’t survive in the body of Jesus.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken the opposite approach by implementing stringent measures in the country. He also recently applauded his citizens for their self-discipline during the country’s 21-day lockdown.

While the first few days were met with confusion and nervousness, by mid-week most residents heeded to call, informed reporters from several news broadcasts.

In his coronavirus update, President Mnangagwa said: “Except where absolutely necessary, you have stayed home together with your families. You have observed and voluntarily enforced social distance and religiously followed routines of basic hygiene as recommended by the World Health Organisation,” according to The Herald.

“Social interactions have either stopped or drastically reduced. We’re on the right path. The deployment of security arms has largely been symbolic, with you our citizens heeding the call, taking the lead and showing the way in the fight against this pandemic. Well done Zimbabweans and keep it up.”

Sources:, News24, Bloomberg, Instagram, Aljazeera, CNBC, Channel24, The Herald

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