Backyarders’ lockdown struggles

Bonteheuwel backyarders are struggling to get to the shops to buy essential goods because their landlords are reluctant to let them walk through their homes in fear of getting sick.

So says Bonteheuwel Backyarders’ Association chairwoman, Elizabeth Lingeveldt, who said she had been inundated with calls from backyarders asking for food and help getting to the shops.

Ms Lingeveldt said the owners of the properties where the backyarders live fear catching Covid-19 if they let the backyarders through their homes to get to the road.

While some houses had separate entrances for backyarder tenants, others don’t, and they had to go through the main house to get in and out.

“I have encouraged them to sanitise properly and use their masks when leaving home and walking through the main house,” Ms Lingeveldt said.

“They know that it is of utmost importance to adhere to the lockdown rules, but it is not easy for families. Many people are staying up to six people in a one-bedroom wendy or shack, so it’s difficult to stay indoors.”

Some backyarders had sent their children away to stay with relatives to create more space in their cramped shacks during the lockdown, she said.

It had been hard on parents being separated from their children, she added.

“Residents in the area are generally adhering to the lockdown rules as we have seen many police officers and law enforcement in the areas, and when I see people walking outside and tell them to go inside they listen to me.”

A Firethorn Street backyarder, who didn’t want her name published, said her four children, aged 7, 9, 13 and 18, were not allowed to walk through the main house; only she could, and only if she really needed to get out.

She said the people in the house gave her children dirty looks if they coughed or sneezed.

She has started to bake her own bread to avoid going to the shop daily

“I am really struggling with this lockdown because there is no money, and my children need to eat. They are so bored and tired of being in the wendy house and not being able to play outside. It is really getting to them.”

Homeowner Patricia May said she did not let her backyard tenant through her house because she feared either she or her children could get sick.

”It is not safe, and I have to do this because I have to protect my children in the house from this disease. He is not happy about it, but what else must I do?

“I am a chronic patient who suffers from hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes, so I can’t risk getting sick.”