Apocalypse? Not now: Capetonians get their chill on

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Apocalypse? Not now: Capetonians get their chill on

Meanwhile, some people took advantage of the remaining hours of freedom to flee the province

Aron Hyman and Esa Alexander
Century City, the giant shopping mall at Canal Walk in Cape Town, was quiet on Wednesday.
Early lockdown Century City, the giant shopping mall at Canal Walk in Cape Town, was quiet on Wednesday.
Image: Esa Alexander

Cape Town residents used their penultimate day of freedom – which coincided with payday for many – to buy provisions for the 21-day lockdown starting 11.59pm on Thursday.

But scenes outside retailers were a far cry from the panic depicted in nearly every apocalypse movie.

Shoppers stand well apart as they queue to enter Pick n Pay's Ottery Hyper in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Going the distance Shoppers stand well apart as they queue to enter Pick n Pay's Ottery Hyper in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Image: Esa Alexander

Instead, people queued patiently and good-naturedly, observing social-distancing guidelines by standing well apart. Masks are in short supply, and very few people were wearing them.

“I’m trying to do my normal monthly shopping so I don’t have to come back. I have three kids at home, so it’s going to be very difficult for me to move around during the day. That is probably the situation with most people,” said Aqeelah Abdullah, a shopper at a supermarket in Ottery.

Rice, canned food, cornflakes, toilet paper and some types of fresh produce – such as onions – were sold out.

Next door at Makro, a lengthy queue of shoppers stretched through the car park and into the road, but the atmosphere was also peaceful.

On the Cape Flats, some people said they would do their shopping only after making it to their homes in the Eastern Cape.

Zihle Goduka said she and her three children were heading to Mount Frere to escape the crowded and unsanitary conditions in Khayelitsha, which she said were exacerbated by a devil-may-care attitude to contracting Covid-19.

“We are running away from this 21-day lockdown,” said Goduka as she waited to board a long-distance minibus taxi.

Sihle Goduka boarded a taxi on Wednesday in Philippi, Cape Town, planning to spend the 21-day lockdown at her Eastern Cape home in Mount Frere with her three children.
Eastern promise Sihle Goduka boarded a taxi on Wednesday in Philippi, Cape Town, planning to spend the 21-day lockdown at her Eastern Cape home in Mount Frere with her three children.
Image: Esa Alexander

“I just think the Eastern Cape is safer than the Western Cape. There’s not a lot of people that side compared to the urban areas, and it’s spacious there. Here, the houses are too close together, there the houses are scattered far apart. It’s much safer.

“There are kids playing in the parks, and I can’t fully control the kids, they want to go out. If I’m in the Eastern Cape I just close the gate to my yard and they can play outside – there’s nowhere else for them to go.”

Goduka said she would stock up on food after arriving in Mount Frere. “There’s a Shoprite there, so as soon as I get home I’ll get my brothers to go and collect supplies,” she said.

“What I’ve noticed here is that people don’t care; they say we are going to get this virus anyway. That is one of the reasons why I want to leave. People don’t care, they are very careless about this virus, they don’t understand how dangerous it is.”

Long-haul taxi driver Bulelani Ntwatelwa arrived in Philippi from the Eastern Cape on Wednesday for his last trip before the lockdown.

“It’s going to be my last trip. I will stay in Mount Frere for the 21 days,” he said.

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