By: Natasha Archary
We’re entering the 7th week of lockdown in South Africa, and life as we knew it has done a complete 360. Globally, the crisis has been managed similarly. But for millions in South Africa, what works for one country does not work for them. Especially in a country like ours, where poverty wreaks havoc every day.
How has the lockdown changed us?
For one, it does not seem to be boding well for a country whose economic status was already up in the air pre-lockdown. With many businesses and SME’s having no option but to close their doors during the lockdown, forecasts for a GDP recovery in the current state remain low.
With treasury recently stating that as many as 7 million South Africans, likely to be unemployed if large chunks of business enterprises remain closed for the rest of the year. Things are not looking promising. This puts the average South African household into greater financial strain.
The implementation of the R350 SASSA relief grant, may be a case of something is better than nothing, but just how far can R350 a household go? Are we being realistic about living expenses?
Mental state of mind
We’re not coping. Let’s be honest. Social isolation and cabin fever aside, South Africans are stressed out and on edge and it’s perfectly understandable.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), has noted a huge increase in the number of calls since the start of the lockdown, from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried and depressed. Many callers are stressed about a combination of issues, including the spread of COVID-19, finances, relationship problems, job security, grief, gender-based violence and trauma.
Social media may not be a supportive enough outlet for venting because the crisis is affecting us all and many people are withdrawing to protect their state of mind. With many unable to see family or loved ones, it’s a loneliness most are unaccustomed to.
Violence on lockdown?
There hasn’t been much coverage on the matter, perhaps due to the sensitivity of the topic. But having recently come across some stats that rape and domestic violence reports have dropped, one has to bring this up.
If a woman is abused, whether physically or sexually during this time but unable to leave her house because she’s now literally trapped with her abuser, is it any wonder the number of rape and domestic abuse reports are down?
We’re not trying to cause more panic or raise doubt, but we do need to think some reports through realistically. These are unchartered waters for all.
From radio talk shows fielding calls from partners unable to see their significant others to marriages in tatters because third party involvement is restricted. Many are not dealing well with the social distancing side of things.
Communication barriers that may have been there long before the lockdown may be starting to wear away at an already strained partnership. Or the social isolation with your family may be the catalyst you have been praying for to help fix a relationship that may have been in tatters.
Homeschooling and the academic year
Can we have a moment for all the parents who have been stellar with the supervision of their children and e-learning please? It’s not easy. Most of us do not have the experience, working regular jobs means our kids are at school, daycare, aftercare for long periods and we are only exposed to them at short intervals of time.
To now be expected to manage their schedules, assignments, projects, assessments, grades, it’s a lot of work and pressure. Some of us, all whilst still working from home. We’ve moved from constantly being on the move and juggling a fast-paced lifestyle, to always being plugged in.
Kids who have never before been exposed to technology are now expected to partake in virtual classrooms, or lessons over the radio or TV. It’s tough on everyone involved.
Going into the second month of lockdown, with some restrictions lifted has eased the stifling feeling somewhat. Being able to go for a morning run has to some extent given us some freedom to feel normal. But like the President said, don’t expect life as we knew it to go back to normal with the flip of a switch.
It may take years before normalcy returns to South Africa and the world.