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‘LOCKDOWN HAS BROUGHT SICKNESS, STARVATION’

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NSALITJE – Borderline residents who were thrown out of work by the coronavirus-tied lockdown are struggling to stay alive, with virtually nothing to eat.


The unprecedented instruction for people to remain in their homesteads is biting hard on the communities living closer to the borderlines, where most family breadwinners eked a living through informal work on South African farms located closer to the country.


One particular family of Mahlabathini, around Lavumisa, disclosed that they survived with the support of a young family member who goes around searching for employment on the farms and sugar cane plantations around Pongola.


Crossing


The concerned family members explained that the family member resided with them and used a nearby informal crossing to get to his workplace.
However, after the South African Government imposed a total lockdown, such an arrangement had to change.
Most of the locals employed in that country found themselves being confined there, making it difficult for them to

provide food for their families.
Lindiwe Mamba, a resident, said before the stay-at-home order by the neighbouring country, their siblings  were able to bring food with them every evening but all that could no longer be achieved because they were now confined to the neighbouring country.


Apart from the loss of breadwinners who are now stuck in the neighbouring country, the woman said some hardworking residents had also been unable to support their families the way they used to do before the lockdown.
Mamba said at her homestead, she was the sole income earner, from selling her wares at the local bus station.
However, since the lockdown, nothing in the form of income or food had been flowing into the homestead.


“I can hear people talking about the coronavirus, but for me my concern now is hunger. I used to sell snacks and vegetables at the local bus station, which mostly serviced commuters who used the informal crossing, but now I am not able to sell because we were ordered to stay at home. It is like these hands of mine have been cut off, and I have become useless to my children who have to eat in order to live,” lamented the woman.


Combating


Although she is aware what government is trying to achieve by the lockdown – combating the spread of coronavirus – she said for her the curfew had only been able to achieve two things: sickness and starvation.


“Now we sleep without having eaten anything and wake up with nothing to eat again. When you have been able to borrow money from neighbours you try to cross to Pongola to buy mealie-meal and other essentials, but the local soldiers turn you back. On occasions where you are able to evade the local soldiers, their counterparts in South Africa spill your mealie-meal and further subject you to hard punishment,” narrated the woman.At present, the woman said her family had been able to survive on porridge and edible greens like okra.


The local army Spokesperson Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo confirmed that the army was turning away locals they found along the borderlines, who would normally be attempting to cross over into South Africa.
“We implore the nation to do what is expected of them during the lockdown period, until the situation returns to normality,” she said.

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