Sowetans don masks but disregard social distancing rules

Soweto residents on Monday appeared to be heeding President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to wear face masks at all times - but would not stay at home nor practise social distancing.
Soweto residents on Monday appeared to be heeding President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to wear face masks at all times - but would not stay at home nor practise social distancing.
Image: Pixabay

Soweto residents on Monday appeared to be heeding President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to wear face masks in public, but were reluctant to stay home or practise social distancing. 

The township now accounts for the majority of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng. Health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana on Sunday said the cumulative number of infections in the province was 93,044, with 31,831 recoveries and 580 deaths.  

This means there are more than 60,000 active cases in the province. The provincial breakdown per sub-district shows that Doornkop, Soweto, Dobsonville and Protea Glen account for the majority of the cases, with 9,457.

TimesLIVE visited various townships on Monday - including Diepkloof, Dobsonville and Orlando East - to observe if people were adhering to the tightened lockdown regulations.

In these townships, people could be seen moving around in groups, the vast majority wearing face masks. 

Physical distancing was not observed, however, as people kept close and in some cases engaged in physical contact by hugging or shaking hands.

It was business as usual for street vendors, while those entering shopping centres made a point of putting on their masks, as is required by law.

Near the Dobsonville Mall, motorists had to drive slowly due to the sheer number of people moving around - some standing on the roadside, not wearing masks.

Shoppers walking outside the mall were assisted wth their groceries by a group of young men, who charged a small fee for their service.

Taxi commuters were barred from entering taxis without wearing a masks. 

Four men gathered outside a popular kota spot in Orlando East, located just a few metres from a tavern, appeared angered by Ramaphosa’s decision to immediately ban the sale and distribution of alcohol. 

“It won’t help with anything … We can still get the alcohol elsewhere [on the black market],” they said.

Asked why they had not stayed home, one asked: “We will stay at home and do what?"

"Until when?" asked another. 

Another person, who was initially reluctant to speak, added: “We are hungry. Staying at home doing nothing is tiring. We have been at home for months now. If we are meant to die, then we will. The government can’t do anything about it."


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