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Lockdown in Diepsloot — elderly queue for social grants, cigarettes for sale

30 March 2020 - 13:18 By Naledi Shange
The elderly queue for social grants at Diepsloot Mall in Gauteng on March 30 2020.
The elderly queue for social grants at Diepsloot Mall in Gauteng on March 30 2020.
Image: Naledi Shange

An elderly woman sitting in a queue at the Diepsloot post office, waiting for her social grant payment, said on Monday she wished she could properly sanitise her hands, even at home.

“We are scared about this disease. We wish government would come and give us sprays to use at our homes so we can also wash our hands and spray them there,” said Sophie Ndlovu, rubbing her hands which had just been sprayed by a Sassa employee.

“They don’t give us sprays and masks to use at home. We are protected here but once we get home, we touch things while we work. Heating water to wash our hands all the time is a lot of work,” she said.

Seated in front of her was another elderly woman who identified herself as MaJiyane.

“I am not scared of the disease. We are all going to die anyway,” she said.

Jiyane and Ndlovu were seated on chairs placed at least a metre apart outside the post office. Officials ensured grant recipients practised social distancing as recommended to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In the queue, only a handful of people wore masks. Others walked around, their faces unprotected. Some used scarves and cloth to cover their mouths and noses.

“I don’t think this does much but it is what I have,” said Elizabeth Serero, referring to the blue and pink scarf tied around her face.

As South Africa goes into a 21-day lockdown over the Covid-19 outbreak, many are concerned for dependants and society's most vulnerable. Social grant recipients can still collect their money and buy food, while shelters are being identified for the homeless. Here's all you need to know about how the lockdown will impact dependants & society's vulnerable.

While the elderly queued outside the post office observing social distancing, it was a different scenario on the other side of the mall, where scores of people queued to get inside the local Shoprite.

Little social distancing was observed, with many chatting while some were seated on a pavement or there with their children.

Each person who made it through the gate into the mall was given a squirt of sanitiser on their hands by security guards who controlled entry.

Next to the mall, a road occupied by businesses was quiet.

Hair salons, cellphone repair shops, tailors, hawker stands and even the doors to a funeral parlour business were shut. Only a few spaza shops were operational.

With a ban being enforced on the sale of cigarettes, TimesLIVE visited three spaza shops to see if the banned items were being sold.

At the first shop, only loose cigarettes were on sale. The second spaza shop owner said he did not have any. At the third, customers were able to purchase packs of 20.

Inside the mall is the Unjani Clinic, a private medical facility. A staffer told TimesLIVE they were equipped to test for the coronavirus but had not done any tests to date.

“The test is expensive, about R1,500 each,” the employee said, adding that people choose to go to a government facility instead.