Lockdown costs grow

Yushraa Afrika made this counting block with her mom, Aleemah.

The lockdown is a growing headache for Cape Flats families who live up to 10 people or more in a one or two-bedroom home and who have lost their income.

Children are bored and adults are frustrated, say residents.

Aleemah Afrika has lived in Bonteheuwel for more than 40 years. She stays with five other people in a two-bedroom house.

She is a cleaner and her husband is a painter, but both their jobs have been cut since lockdown started on Thursday March 26.

Ms Afrika was the only one with a steady income and now that it’s gone, the family relies on community support and feeding schemes.

Ms Afrika’s mother is a pensioner, and she worries about her health and whether there will be enough food each day for them all to eat.

While she understands the need for the lockdown, she says her children are finding it hard to stay indoors. They struggle to understand why they can’t play in the street with their friends.

Many homes don’t have a television to keep children occupied, never mind data for a phone or laptop to download games or academic programmes .

“We play with bottles and whatever else we can find, and today we made a counting block with the bottle tops.

“It’s really such a struggle, I don’t know what to do anymore.

“I know we must be indoors, but I need to go look for work as I need to buy food and water.

“It’s already such a struggle without this lockdown, but now it’s even worse; we have no jobs. There are feeding schemes in the community, but I am too scared to walk to fetch some food or soup, What if the police catch me and stop me? Will my reason be good enough to be outside?”

Faroza Harvey, stays in Kalksteenfontein in a two-bedroom house with 11 other people. She is worried about her 85-year-old aunt who has Alzheimer’s, her 75-year-old mom who has arthritis and her 30-year-old daughter who is intellectually disabled.

Because of the lockdown, she had to send her other two children to stay with their father so they have more space to play.

Her aunt, she says, is used to going for walks in the road, but she can no longer do this.

Ms Harvey says everyone is becoming frustrated and feeling claustrophobic; they are constantly in each others faces and have no room to move around as they are confined to their bedrooms.

Because of her aunt’s Alzheimer’s, they have to keep the doors locked so she doesn’t slip out. Keeping a constant eye out for her is not easy, says Ms Harvey.

“So we end up screaming and arguing with each other all the time because we are frustrated, the children are bored, and they don’t want to be indoors, and there is no money to buy things to keep them entertained,”

Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez says her department is trying to get South African Social Security Agency to use its feeding-scheme budget to make more food parcels available for the needy.

“We are also in talks with other departments, NGOs, and civil organisations to assist in expanding the safety net for the vulnerable.”

Feeding schemes at schools in Bonteheuwel have reopened although schools remain closed and children and adults are allowed to collect food daily, says ward councillor Angus McKenzie. For more information about the feeding schemes call Angus McKenzie on 082 444 1850.