The coronavirus has forced the closure of public events the world over.
On day 378 of the national lockdown, Elitsha looks back at the past twelve months and the pictures we took.
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th of March marked a year and two months since the first positive case of coronavirus was detected in South Africa. Since then, SA’s lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus have affected working class communities in a tragic way, many of whom are now unemployed and still at the bottom end of basic public service provision. Although vaccines arrived in the country since February this year, there have been many problems in their roll-out.
The government declared a state of disaster and announced a level 5, hard lockdown. This meant that no one could leave their house unless they were essential staff or going to purchase essential goods with a permit to do so. In working class communities like Khayelitsha, public services and institutions like the South African Social Service Agency (Sassa) held people up in long queues that usually resulted in anger, dissatisfaction, and many people not getting the help that they need. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe.
Law enforcement officers instructed informal traders who sell braaied meat in Town 2 in Khayelitsha to stop trading as they sell cooked food without having original permits. This came after a ban on informal traders under level 5 lockdown regulations was lifted by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe.
The R350 social relief of distress grant was announced by President Ramaphosa as a six-month form of support for those who are unemployed and don’t receive any form of grant or UIF payment. Alongside this, Sassa was to distribute food parcels but the emergency food relief was uneven and delayed across provinces. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
During the early days of lockdown, community care workers were not issued with adequate gloves and masks to perform their duties safely. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Backyarders from Makhaza who occupied land near Empolweni were evicted and their homes demolished by law enforcement. Many of them said that they occupied the land after being evicted from their rented accommodation having lost their jobs and being unable to continue paying rent. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Sisanda Ngxanga explaining her situation and pleading with law enforcement officers not to demolish her shack. Video by Lilita Gcwabe
Workers in the retail sector risked infection by the virus since they had not been issued with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and were not getting tested. Spar employees at the Khayelitsha Mall demanded to be tested for Covid-19 after two of their colleagues tested positive. They organised a protest and refused to continue working until they got tested for Covid-19. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Following a number of protests against the reopening of schools in the early weeks of June 2020, parents together with community members in Khayelitsha shut down schools in the township, declaring them not ready to open. With the help of a private company, the Khayelitsha Development Forum demonstrated how to deep clean a classroom environment and urged the Western Cape province to support the community to do so. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Home-based workers were among those most severely affected by the lockdown, having to move out of work spaces into small rooms with little space to move and place equipment, and with little to no ventilation. They lack formal protection as workers because government’s economic measures to mitigate the impact of the lockdown only reached workers in the formal economy. Photo by Sindile Gulwa
Nita Pusakwe fetching water from the river in Centane where villagers struggled to access water even before the pandemic. Villagers outside Centane in the Eastern Cape say their taps have been dry for the past six years. The only time their taps have water is after rainfall and then only for less than 30 minutes. Throughout the pandemic, communities like these were without water. Photo by Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik
In November 2020, community healthcare workers in the Western Cape demanded a minimum wage of R12,500. They marched to the Western Cape Health Department demanding an end to their exploitation as they are excluded from the benefits permanent staff enjoy and were expected to work with improper PPE, without receiving a danger allowance. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
February 2021 saw the arrival of the AztraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. After more than 1-million positive cases in SA and the increasing number of job losses, the need for a vaccine to work towards ending the pandemic became more urgent. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
Today, we are in the midst of a vaccine roll-out that is moving at a snail’s pace. The People’s Vaccine Campaign of South Africa (PVC-SA) argues that the patent laws preventing local pharmaceutical companies from manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines are blocking fair and equitable access to healthcare for developing nations like South Africa. PVC plans to continue organising against ‘vaccine apartheid’. Photo by Lilita Gcwabe
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