Coronavirus News Africa

OPINION | Lockdown on the Cape Flats – where the sounds of gunshots and children’s laughter linger


2020-05-02 07:00

The lockdown on the Cape Flats is no different than any other time – where the laughter of children playing in the streets coupled with the sound of gunshots frequently pierce the air, writes Tauhira Dean.  

For many working class citizens living in the suburbs, lockdown means more home cooked meals, present parents and activities for the whole family to enjoy.  

But the reality for the not-so-fortunate is markedly different: the national lockdown means parents having to think of ways to make their weekly wages stretch further than before.

As schools have come to a halt, more children are left to fend for themselves.

Going from a daily meal that they would’ve received at school, now left in limbo waiting for nightfall to see what their mother can scramble together.  

While the “surburbanites” are bored of watching most of the shows offered on Netflix, DStv and Showmax, for the poor and vulnerable, their struggle is about survival.  

The lived reality is, the gunshots still go off unrelentingly; drug addicts still walk the street scavenging through dirt bins and litter dumps for anything they can lay their hands on to get them to their next fix.

Unemployed fathers are still hanging out at their regular spots catching their highs at the end of a bottleneck.

This is the sad reality of the lockdown spectrum in Cape Town.  

And our government is aware of the glaring inequality.

In his Freedom Day address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the coronavirus pandemic forces us to confront the reality of inequality in our land.  

“Some people have been able to endure the coronavirus lockdown in a comfortable home with a fully stocked fridge, with private medical care and online learning for their children. For millions of others, this has been a month of misery, of breadwinners not working, of families struggling to survive and of children going to bed and waking up hungry.”

Yes, we’ve seen various viral clips of footage showing this contrasting reality but sadly people on the Cape Flats have no choice but to occupy themselves by going outside their homes.

Children are set back further with the lack of infrastructure and self-taught school materials because their parents don’t have the capacity to educate them as their ultimate focus is about putting bread on the table.  

I drove through the streets of Hanover Park recently, watching children nonchalantly play in the street.

As I write this, sitting in my backyard, I’m hearing gunshots ring out.   

So no, lockdown on the Cape Flats is no different than any other time, except that parents aren’t working and children fill the street during the day.  

How should these families be confined to two-bedroom council flats when their homes are not a haven; when not even their four walls can shelter them from bullets flying all over the place, when the military and police are conspicuous by their absence.   

 – Tauhira Dean is a content producer at Health24


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