Top five lockdown stories that had South Africans talking

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Midnight March 26 marks one year since South Africa went under lockdown. SABC News looks back at some COVID-19-related stories that left South Africans shocked and outraged since President Cyril Ramaphosa first announced what was supposed to be a 21-day lockdown on 23 March 2020.

It all started when the first case of COVID-19 in South African was detected in KwaZulu-Natal. A 38-year-old man who had travelled to Italy on holiday with a group of 10 people tested positive for the virus. Since then over 1.5 million South Africans have contracted the virus and there have been more than 50 000 COVID 19-related deaths.

Below are some of the regulations that sent tongues wagging and shocking incidents

Ban on alcohol and cigarettes sales

In what was described as one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, South Africa banned the sale of alcohol and tobacco products, saying it would compromise the health of citizens.

Citizens faced a five-month ban on the sale of cigarettes and three alcohol bans since the pandemic hit last March, the last was imposed on 28 December.

This sparked public outrage and resulted in the black market thriving with sales going up to more than double its market value.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise that other top searches in South Africa for 2020 included searches such as ‘how to make pineapple beer’. However, this proved fatal for some who died after the consumption of homemade alcohol or were rushed to hospital for poisoning.

#CigaretteBan #AlcoholBan

Baby clothes  furore

During the hard lockdown, mothers were left frustrated after they couldn’t buy to buy clothes for their babies because of the nationwide lockdown. Shops were open only for food and medication.

The Tebeila Institute of Leadership, the African Institute for Human Rights and Constitutional Litigation filed an urgent application at the Constitutional Court, challenging the closure of shops that sell goods for babies.

After President Ramaphosa extended the nationwide lockdown by further two weeks, government amended the lockdown regulations to allow clothing shops to sell baby clothes and some necessities.

Another bizarre COVID-19 regulation was that South African stores could only sell “closed toe,” shoes and short-sleeved shirts if they were promoted or displayed to be worn under jackets or jerseys.

SANDF brutality

After being deported by President Ramaphosa to enforce compliance to the national lockdown, alleged brutality by some SANDF and SAPS members was reported.

Collins Khosa, a 40-year-old man from Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg, died after he was allegedly assaulted by soldiers.

Social media posts also showed SANDF members forcing members of the public to perform physical exercises, beating some citizens up and confiscating their groceries. This caused a public outcry. The public was urged to report cases of brutality to the  Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).


Food parcel and PPE Corruption 

In July 2020, allegations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tender corruption amounting to millions of rand emerged from several parts of the country.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, and his wife Loyiso, went on leave of absence amid alleged irregularities relating to a R125 million PPE tender. The tender was awarded to Royal Bhaca Projects – a company owned by Diko’s husband, who is now late.

In April 2020, the government distributed food parcels to the needy who were hard hit by the impact of the lockdown. This was also marred by corruption claims with some councillors allegedly stashing away the groceries for themselves and their family members or unfairly distributing them to their political party members. Some were sold to foreign-owned shops.

In Tshwane, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) opened a corruption case against some officials for allegedly distributing food parcels based on preference.

#Covid19SA #Foodparcelcorruption #PPEcorruption 

Rise of Gender-Based Violence 

Many South Africans expressed shock at the rise of gender-based violence during the lockdown. Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre said there had been a spike in rape, incest and marital rape cases. It believes the violence was linked to the frustration of being in confined spaces, and the restriction of movement.

Police said they were received at least 2 300 calls for help related to gender-based violence during the first week of the 21-day national lockdown.

#GenderBasedViolence #ViolenceAgainstWomen #ViolenceAgainstChildren #GBV 

The year of COVID-19: