Covid-19 brings world to standstill

This year has been a real rollercoaster ride and few of us would have imagined when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown in March, that come year end, our movements would still be restricted – and we’d be facing a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

And who would have thought that a call to attend regular “family meetings” would come to mean tuning in to a live address from the president.

The initial 21-day national lockdown to fight Covid-19 got off to a rough start in Mitchell’s Plain, with children continuing to play in the street, cars driving back and forth and people in long queues at malls and shopping centres.

In April, Plainsman spoke to John Witbooi, 36, who was one of the first five positive Covid-19 cases and who had recovered from the virus.

A week later over 2 000 homeless people were housed at the City of Cape Town’s temporary shelter at the Strandfontein sports field where they were meant to stay for the duration of the lockdown period at a cost of R32 million.

But on Wednesday May 20, the temporary shelter site closed.

Among the many organisations affected by the virus financially were those in the ECD sector, with 50 ECD centre principals deciding to write to the president for financial support to survive the lockdown.

Schools were also affected by the lockdown period and “there was a lukewarm feeling about reopening schools”, when pupils had to start returning to class.

Schools re-opened with a phased approach under lockdown on Monday June 1, but teachers took major strain in a climate of fear with some of them protesting for more substitute teachers and psychosocial support for pupils.

In June and around the time the president described gender-based violence as South Africa’s second pandemic in one of his “family meetings”, a senior City of Cape Town official and prominent community leader was arrested for allegedly raping a Strandfontein girl, 13, after she spoke out about it.

In September, a rape kit audit was conducted by a national women’s organisation, SA Women Fight Back, to make sure police stations across Cape Town had rape kits available.

They put the spotlight on this after reports revealed the backlog in processing DNA case exhibits at the National Forensic Science Laboratories (NFSL) was nearing 100 000 cases.

And earlier this month we reported that Alessio Marcus, 17, a Beacon Hill High School pupil who is deputy speaker of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament and chairperson of the Representative Council of Learners (RCL) of the Western Cape, had been nominated to represent all children of South Africa, to speak on gender-based violence, femicide and child murders in the National Assembly in Parliament.

While we’ve reported on all of this – and more – the story of 2020 that will no doubt stand out is that of Covid-19 and how it brought the world to a standstill, forcing us to rethink how we live, take care of ourselves and conduct business.

We may have seen a “flattening of the curve” around August, but as we head towards Christmas we find ourselves in the dreaded second wave, with a spike in Covid-19 cases and little adherence to Covid19 rules and regulations in Mitchell’s Plain.

Many events have been postponed, many have lost loved ones to the virus, and many still live in fear, but we are hopeful that everyone will learn to embrace the “new normal” and that people will continue to practise safe behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We look forward to the new year and we wish all our readers a happy and safe festive season.