We might die… but definitely not while sober_1

With at least R3,500 worth of supplies, including two cartons of cigarettes, three little bags of marijuana, 48 cans of beer, and four 750 ml bottles of gin, Peter Ngwenya is confident that he will survive the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown. His biggest concern though is running out booze or that the lockdown could be extended without the nation being given a bit of a breather to stock up on banned supplies. “I understand (Police Minister) Bheki Cele’s reasoning that most people tend to be violent when they were drunk and that most road crashes were caused by drunken drivers. But...
With at least R3,500 worth of supplies, including two cartons of cigarettes, three little bags of marijuana, 48 cans of beer, and four 750 ml bottles of gin, Peter Ngwenya is confident that he will survive the 21-day Covid-19 lockdown.

His biggest concern though is running out booze or that the lockdown could be extended without the nation being given a bit of a breather to stock up on banned supplies.

“I understand (Police Minister) Bheki Cele’s reasoning that most people tend to be violent when they were drunk and that most road crashes were caused by drunken drivers. But I do not believe it was the right call to ban alcohol. It is people who are troublesome, not alcohol,” said Ngwenya, an IT specialist.

The 32-year-old was among scores of people queuing up to stock up on alcohol at a liquor store in Northcliff, Johannesburg, hours before the midnight curfew kicked in.

“I cannot live without alcohol in my system. This is why I am buying enough to last me 21 days. I spent R1,000 on alcohol and other supplies,” said a man pushing a trolley full of all sorts of booze.

With some mothers carrying babies on their backs, Kempton Park’s busy Festival Mall on the East Rand, was among many shopping centres flooded by shoppers.

Neither banks nor retail shops like Pick n Pay and Checkers cut corners when it came to enforcing national disaster regulations in maintaining social distancing of one metre and dispensing sanitisers to shoppers, some of whom put on masks.

The unprecedented and drastic cutting down of numbers to 20 at one go, for clients inside the establishments, saw large snake-like queues being formed.

The last-minute shopping saw people filling up trolleys with food and alcohol – despite government assurances that the country would not run out of food.

“Attention all customers, please note that the following limits apply: Beer – three cases, cider three cases, spirits three bottles, wine 12 bottles and box wine – three boxes”, was a visible sign inside the Pick n Pay liquor store.

Some patrons told The Citizen that they believed alcohol helped in cleansing themselves of the coronavirus.

“If the sanitiser content has 70% alcohol, then beers, wines, brandy and spirits, should be okay to cleanse us inside,” said one shopper.

Taxi ranks, train and bus stations were also teeming with people pulling large pieces of luggage, scrambling to get out of Gauteng to their respective home provinces before midnight.

“I cannot be stuck in Gauteng for 21 days. I would rather head home to be with my family,” said Nomasonto Ndala, 39, a domestic worker from Mpumalanga who works in Waverley in Pretoria.

She was just worried that the buses to the former KwaNdebele homeland, about 130km north-east of Pretoria, were always full and could easily carry up to 70 people, with others standing in the aisle.

“Social distancing is impossible in such situations and we all come from different parts of the country, and anyone of us could have been exposed to the virus,” the single mother of two said.

Anxiety about the future also abounds as the number of infections continue to rise, with many people worried about what would happen if the numbers did not go down even after the lockdown.

The local number of Covid-19 infections has surpassed the 900 mark, and projections from the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (Sacema) show that at an infection rate of 10%, 87,900 people could die from the Covid-19 infection.

At an infection rate of 20%, Sacema projected that up to 176,000 people could die and that the virus could kill up to 351,000 at an 40% infection rate.

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