A look at some of the people we spoke to 100 days into lockdown: Where are they now?

Parenting concerns, financial hardships and vaccine hesitancy emerge

20 August 2021 - 07:34
By Naledi Shange and Shonisani Tshikalange
Zanele Zama says Covid-19 precautions have shaped her daughter's personality.
Image: Supplied Zanele Zama says Covid-19 precautions have shaped her daughter's personality.

To mark 100 days of the Covid-19 lockdown last year, TimesLIVE took you into the lives of families who were experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in completely different ways. Now, more than 500 days since the lockdown started, we checked in to find out how some of those people are doing today, and their thoughts on the coronavirus.

In July 2020, Zanele Zama of Kempton Park was heavily pregnant and counting the days to meeting her daughter, her third child. Back then, she explained how the Covid-19 restrictions meant she couldn't have the support of her mother after her birth. The closure of restaurants during the higher levels of the pandemic didn't make things any easier as she battled to satisfy her pregnancy cravings.

Speaking to TimesLIVE this week, Zama said Covid-19 and all the precautions that she and her husband had tried to apply, have affected her daughter's personality. Usthandile Zama is now 13 months old.

“With [our second child] Vukona, he was friendly. At two months old we were already taking him to church with us and there, he would be bounced off other people in church. With Usthandile, it's different. She is always with me or her dad because of Covid and so, she isn't open to other people. She isn't used to them because she only [spends time with] us,” said Zama.

“Even now, when her brothers go out to play, she sticks with us and does not want to go play outside,” she said.

A year ago, Zama expressed her concern at being alone in the delivery room for the birth and not having her family's support once she left the hospital. But a clear Covid-19 test meant Zama could have her husband with her in theatre when she gave birth. The three-day hospital stay, however, was a lonely one.

“He didn't get to bond or spend time with the baby [after she was born]. And after I was discharged, it was just me and him, unlike the last times where I had my mother or mother-in-law,” she said, adding that her husband took on the role of being her caregiver.

Things have changed quite a lot in the Zama household.

“My husband lost his job so we have had to make do with one income and three children. It has affected us because it means the kids can't always get they want, but God is good,” Zama said optimistically.

Another person who TimesLIVE spoke to back then was Khumbudzo Mahosana, a public servant and mother.

Last year, Mahosana took a decision, based on safety concerns, to send her daughter to Limpopo to live with her grandmother. She had been particularly cautious because her daughter's father worked at a hospital and was at risk of being exposed to people who may be carrying the virus.

Speaking to TimesLIVE now, Mahosana said things for her household had moved from “bad to worse”, particularly in their finances. 

“We didn't even get [salary] increases while my child had to start grade one. I can't afford her to drop out from school [like I made her do] last year when she dropped out of creche,” said Mahosana.

The 34-year-old said the decision to take her child out of Grade R last year had an impact on how she is handling school now.

“Children are becoming so slow. I have to get extra lessons for my child, which is more money. I also have to get her day care on the days that she is not going to school,” she said.

“On finances, the school wants their fees, transport people still want a full monthly fee, even when the learners were attending rotationally,” Mahosana said.

Nothing could have prepared her for the life they are living.

Looking back at when the lockdown started, she said: “We thought it was going to be something for weeks, maybe just to calm down the situation, but unfortunately it wasn't like that. We understand that it got longer because people were dying and the rate of infection increasing.”

Mahosana said she got vaccinated although she now has fears due to all the speculation about the vaccine.

“I did get vaccinated but now I am very scared because I am hearing cases that people are dying from Covid-19 while vaccinated. I am even scared of going to get the second dosage because people are dying ... It's scary. I worry if this vaccine is a real thing or it's exactly what Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng was talking about, the 666,” she said.

She only experienced minor symptoms after being vaccinated.

A third person we spoke to last year was Jared Monyai. At the time, he felt despondent about the future as he was battling to get a job. Since then, after the lockdown levels eased, he managed to get a job as a security guard.

The 25-year-old said this year was a little better for him compared to 2020.

“When we first went into lockdown, I didn't expect that it was going to be this long, even though we didn't know how strong the virus was. Being told to sit at home, sanitise and wear a mask, we had hoped that [this would result in] the virus soon disappearing,” Monyai said.

Reflecting back on what he described as a difficult year, Munyai said in 2020, he battled to get some of the food parcels that government had distributed. He, however, received the R350 social relief of distress grants and was grateful for that.

“The R350 grant helped us. Even though it couldn't cover all the things we needed, at least it assisted with a little food and data to apply for jobs online,” he said.

He is still deciding whether to get vaccinated or not.

“I am not yet prepared to get vaccinated. I am still scared of different assumptions around it. Some are saying the vaccine causes the virus to make you more sick,” he said.