Since writing this yesterday the President has addressed the nation. However my opinion remains unchanged and unless genuine tangible action is taken to help the vulnerable this will end very badly!

I have to confess to a growing sense of anger over our lockdown.

I know the lockdown is the right thing to do, we need to protect the most vulnerable and flatten the curve to make it safe for all, I truly get that, I do.

What I don't get and am struggling with is the apparent lack of foresight and planning that has gone in to the situation, leaving the most vulnerable in dire straits.

Here in South Africa the President was lauded for his swift and bold stance, but quite quickly it became apparent that some of his ministers were far less capable. Sadly as time has gone by the whole govt are looking shambolic and the "swift and bold stance" is starting to look like a panicky knee jerk reaction that has led to a scale of suffering that is unprecedented in this land.

But what really gets me in all this is the tangible level of desperation amongst huge swathes of the population who are very very hungry and fearful for their futures!  Apparently one of the govt's proposals to address this is an increase in the Social Security Grants paid out each month, but most of our Soup Kitchen regulars don't qualify for such grants so would continue to be left behind.  All of this just serves to create a nonsensical situation of the government's own creation, and yet as ever it's the churches and others on the ground doing their best to deal with it.

Here are two photographs we took yesterday as we attempted to deliver some food hampers in that community.  We simply couldn't get any closer because the rioting was well under way and the sheer volume of people involved meant the police were powerless other than attempting to control access via roadblocks.

This isn't fear mongering or sensationalist journalism, just the actual observations of a couple of pastors frustrated in their attempts to help those in genuine need.

Back to my original point about the apparent lack of planning and foresight by the govt... hindsight is the only exact science on the planet and it's easy to look back and criticise.  However, the lockdown should have been delayed by a week to allow for some serious planning, local NPOs, PBOs, faith based organisations and other community stakeholders should have been involved in planning food security for the most vulnerable.  And above all, in a democracy there should have been a degree of negotiation and involvement with the electorate.  I really do believe that the vast majority entered in to the lockdown with a degree of willing cooperation which was immediately tested when the Police Minister banned alcohol & cigarette sales whilst also informing us that we would not be allowed to exercise outside or walk our dogs. Despite this I think the two week extension was accepted with a fair degree of goodwill too given how SA's infection and death rate were contained.

However, I really do believe that any further extension will see mass riots, protests and serious looting of shops and bottle stores (which has already started!) as the dying embers of cooperation fade behind serious hunger and fears for tomorrow. As I've said in a previous post there have already been riots over the govt's food parcels and yesterday there were news reports of grocery delivery trucks being hijacked, so things are already heading downhill. I just hope and pray the govt might come to its senses soon and act decisively to address the desperate need.  More police in riot gear is not the answer!

On a slightly more positive note; today we had it confirmed via the ACDP that we can indeed operate as an essential service in terms of Regulation 11(b)(3) of Covid-19, all we have to do is apply to the Department of Social Development.  The picture at the top is a screenshot of the DSD's website after searching for said permits. I guess it's a case of answers on a postcard please.


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