365 days of lockdown: 10 highlights of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa
27 March marks exactly one year since President Cyril Ramaphosa placed South Africa into a nationwide lockdown, an emergency call that was necessitated by the epic spread of COVID-19.
A year in lockdown: Is this the new normal for South Africa?
Without any preparations in place to respond to a global pandemic, the government followed in the footsteps of many other countries that had been hit hard by the first wave.
Ports of entry were shut down, large spaces where people regularly gathered — like churches, supermarkets, social event venues — were closed off to the public and to limit the transit of this unseen enemy, movement was restricted by hardcore lockdown regulations.
At Alert Level 5, South Africans could not even visit loved ones, in fear of spreading the infectious respiratory virus that, to date, has claimed millions of lives worldwide.
Suffice it to say, it has been a topsy-turvy year where the world has had to adjust to remote living and rigorous-yet-simple health practices like regularly washing hands and wiping surfaces down with high-alcohol cleaning products.
Wins and losses were seen. Families mourned the loss of loved ones and 365 days into lockdown, it can be said that ‘normal’ has found a new meaning.
To commemorate this bittersweet anniversary, we have looked at 10 highlights that rocked the socks off our boots in the past year.
365 days later: 10 highlights of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa
South Africa records first two deaths related to COVID-19
A day into the 21-day lockdown, two deaths resulting from COVID-19 were recorded. At the time, Dr Zweli Mkhize confirmed that the patients lost their lives at different hospitals in the Western Cape.
Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams breaks lockdown rules
The communications minister was forced to issue a public apology and take a suspension — with a pay-cut — after she was caught in breach of lockdown rules.
Ndabeni-Abrahams, at the time, had caused an uproar after an image of her having lunch with friends at the home of Mr Mduduzi Manana went viral.
The commoners shall endure #SALockdown while the elites and the ruling class enjoy each other’s company and freedom of movement. No political judgment, no commitment to cease their sense of exceptionalism. President Ramaphosa must act on Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams #covid19SA pic.twitter.com/zHo9rOpyhC— Lukhona Mnguni (@LukhonaMnguni) April 7, 2020
Who remembers the Sea Point superspreader joggers?
Two months into lockdown, Ramaphosa had eased regulations and announced Alert Level 4, which paved the way for a number of perks.
People could cautiously venture out into the COVID-jacked wilderness. However, maintaining social distancing was still a mandatory rule. Apparently, these Sea Point joggers couldn’t care less.
This video showing hundreds of Atlantic Seaboard residents hit the Sea Point pavilion for a fresh morning run.
Return of liquor sales exposed SA’s drinking problem
By June 2020, things were progressively moving towards normalcy. South Africa’s lockdown was downgraded to Alert Level 3 and this meant, for the first time in over two months, liquor sales returned to the shelves.
These videos are the empirical proof you need to realise how the impact collective cold turkey had on South Africans.
Veteran actress Candy Moloi dies
The nation mourned the loss of Muvhango‘s long-serving character Vho-Makhadzi, four months into lockdown. At the time, it was speculated that the veteran actress had passed away due to COVID-19 complications since her daughter and fellow Muvhango colleague Lerato Zah Moloi had recovered from the virus shortly before her death.
Moloi was 67 years old.
The shocking death of Bob Mabena
South Africa was thrust into an extended period of mourning when the death of 51-year-old Bob Mabena was announced. The veteran broadcaster suffered a fatal cardiac arrest shortly after he was discharged from hospital. His death was never linked to COVID-19.
The Clicks ‘race’ row that divided SA
South Africa was thrust into a ‘race’ row after Clicks’ epic marketing blunder went viral on social media. Customers were outraged when they found highly triggering images with contrasts between kinky and straight-textured hair.
The EFF rallied a nationwide shutdown that saw the emergence of the notorious ‘boeremag’ coming out in arms to protect a Clicks outlet in Hermanus, Western Cape.
Katlego Maboe’s epic fall from grace
Former OUTsurance ambassador and host Katlego Maboe went viral after a clip surfaced of him being accused of cheating.
His former partner, Monique Muller, exposed the rot of the couple’s marriage, accusing the former Expresso co-host of infecting her with an STD.
To this day, this scandal stands out as one of the most epic in Mzansi celebriton history.
The untimely death of Mshoza
South Africa’s music industry was hit by another grave loss. Nomasonto ‘Mshoza’ Maswanganyi was confirmed dead by music rights group SAMRO in November 2020. It is still unknown what caused the 37-year-old’s death.
South Africa’s stuttering vaccine rollout
A year has passed and incredibly, the world has initiated its global vaccine campaign, a mind-boggling achievement that will long be revered in virology. How the world responded to a deadly virus and conjured up more than a few vaccines to combat its spread is still a massive head-scratcher for many.
Alas, South Africa has commenced with its inoculation programme but there is still a great level of dissatisfaction with the way the momentous process has been handled. From poor communication that led to the infamous AstraZeneca blunder, to criticisms over the country’s snail-paced acquisition efforts, it has not been an easy ride for the country’s health department.
To date, South Africa has inoculated more than 220 000 healthcare workers and in stock, it’s believed the country has acquired around 300 000 Johnson & Johnson jabs, with millions more expected in tranches over the next few months.
Will South Africa be agile enough to achieve herd immunity before the third wave? The sentiment from health experts seems to lean towards the contrary.
However, a year later and the efforts to overcome the pandemic have not faltered. Lockdown has sown itself into the fabric of our lives and with this new normal, the world has formed a new reality, one that may define the next generation.