Lockdown? What lockdown? Capetonians continue to shop and walk their dogs

27 March 2020 - 12:46 By Aron Hyman
Shoppers in Cape Town on the first day of the nationwide lockdown.
Shoppers in Cape Town on the first day of the nationwide lockdown.
Image: Aron Hyman

Cape Town was supposed to be on lockdown on Friday but with droves of homeless people, beggars, hustlers, refugees and ordinary residents on shopping runs it felt more like a Sunday after Christmas.

In the city centre, central city improvement district (CCID) staff tried in vain to get a group of young men off the street.

They were from Mannenberg, they claimed, and they were just on their way home.

A CCID officer told them that two people in the Western Cape had succumbed to the Covid-19 virus, and that they should please stay away from populated areas.

His words seemed to fall on deaf ears, as the men smiled and walked on by with a, “Ja, we're going”.

Further along they turned a corner into Adderley Street, instead of heading to the taxi rank.

A long queue of people were standing not even centimetres apart, and most without face masks, waiting to enter the Shoprite Hypermarket in the Golden Acre mall.

Pick n Pay staff at Fish Hoek in Cape Town.
Pick n Pay staff at Fish Hoek in Cape Town.
Image: Aron Hyman

A pile of dead flowers, crates, and watering cans lay in front of the Cape Town flower market which is closed for what may be the first time in its history. Refugees who have been removed from outside the Central Methodist Mission in Green Market Square washed their hands and feet at a faucet usually only accessible to the flower sellers.

A barefoot teenage beggar in ragged clothes walked up to car windows of essential staff at a traffic stop, asking for money as though it was any other day.

This might be the first time in its history that the Cape Town flower market in Adderley Street has been closed.
This might be the first time in its history that the Cape Town flower market in Adderley Street has been closed.
Image: Aron Hyman

At a park along Constitution Street, a man in his pyjamas was seen walking two small dogs.

A woman queuing in Adderley Street, along with many essential staff such as correctional services, police, and security guards, explained that she did not have time to stock up on groceries this week. 

Cape Town on day 1 of the national lockdown.
Cape Town on day 1 of the national lockdown.
Image: Aron Hyman

Another woman said that she was paid her salary only on Friday and there was no food at home. 

“I'm surprised to see so many people on the street. I thought with the real lockdown life wouldn't go on like normal. This virus can still spread if people are moving around,” said a resident who came with his friend to buy a 5kg bag of maize meal. 

“People are standing close together, they're not even wearing masks,” said the masked man.


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