As the first day of a 21-day national lockdown began in South Africa on Friday, scores of people in various parts of the country flocked to the shops to buy food and other essentials.

In Alexandra township, there were snaking queues outside shops.

In the video below, SABC’s Hasina Gori reports on the situation in Alexandra:

A similar situation prevailed at the Wonderpark Shopping Centre in Pretoria.

Banks were also operational with some branches, including Capitec, African Bank and First National Bank, allowing walk-ins.

But all clothing shops and fast food restaurants were closed, as per government’s instructions.

And despite Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s stern warning that the government would not allow people to travel in groups, some Akasia residents were seen driving in groups of four or in pairs, while some taxis continued to ferry stranded commuters.

Call for extension of public transport hours

Some commuters in Bloemfontein, in the Free State, were left stranded in the CBD after their shopping.

Taxis are operating at set times as part of government’s effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has claimed two live in the country so far.

The community members now want the Minister of Transport to extend operating hours for taxis.

They say the lockdown is not helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 as they are now stranded in a dirty environment.

“We have been here since in the morning around 9. The taxis are having a problem they say minister released the order that at 9 they must stop taking people. So now we have to wait until four and some of the taxi drivers say they won’t transport because they are only supposed to transport four people and they can’t transport four people. The problem that we are facing is that most of retailers open at 9, some at 8 so by that time we don’t have the transport to take us home.”

In KwaZulu-Natal, eThekwini Metro Police have been deployed to townships around Durban, following reports that people were not adhering to the lockdown protocols.

Earlier on Friday, some people were seen moving around, going about their daily routine. 

“We are happy that in the CBD it seems as if people have adhered to the call by the president on the lockdown. But we also have some worries about the respect of this decision especially in areas such as Mlazi townships and other townships hence we have decided to re-enforce our law enforcement agencies so that they can be all over in all places to ensure that they are enforcing the decision of our government. So, we are appealing to people to adhere to it. It is not intended to disrupt their lives, but it is indeed intended to save the lives of our people.,” says eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.

 

South Africa’s three-week lockdown kicked off at midnight and will end at midnight on April 16, 2020.

It comes as the world races to contain the virus that’s threatening world economies and humanity.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has exceeded 200 000, with more than 8 000 deaths.