18 April 2020
From as early as 5am, people from surrounding villages commute to Lusikisiki in taxis and in the back of canopied bakkies to buy their groceries. Lockdown has made their day much harder.
Shoppers crowd around the stores, with social distancing observed only if there are security officers or spacing mechanisms.
Shops, ATM queues and taxi ranks are the most crowded places in the town centre.
Those who finish their shopping early are stuck in town without transport. They are forced to find shelter under trees or the verandas of closed shops until 4pm, when taxis are once again allowed to operate.
There are police roadblocks at all four entry points into Lusikisiki.
Commuter Sithembile Sukude from Flagstaff said she understands the need for the lockdown but it is difficult for users of public transport.
“I left home before sunrise and I’ll arrive home after the sun has set, because of the restrictions on taxis. I think it is very risky having to hang around town the whole day. They should let taxis take us home,” said Sukude.
Lusikisiki resident Benathi Xolo applauded the police’s efforts during the lockdown.
“Police officers are everywhere, in town and surrounding villages. They are working hard to keep us safe. They even remind people to maintain a distance through a loudhailer as they pass by.” Xolo said.
Many supermarkets have sanitisers at the entrances for their customers. But there are none at taxi ranks.
Hawkers are also feeling the effect of the lockdown. Hawker Thembeka Mdingwa said she is finding it hard to survive. “I have ten children that I have to provide for. Things were already difficult before the lockdown, now it is a daily struggle to live.”
The regular washing of hands is difficult for the villages surrounding Lusikisiki and Flagstaff as residents still struggle to access clean water. Many depend on rivers for the precious liquid.