Pretoria – As expected, the topic of discussion at a drinking hole in Phomolong informal settlement in Mamelodi East yesterday was the coronavirus.
A group of men huddled in a circle were discussing the pandemic while knocking back cold beers. The focus of the discussion was their fear of the virus.
The men feared it would not take long for the whole informal settlement of about 6000 to be wiped out should one person contract the virus.
Shakes Mashabela said all it would take would be for one domestic worker or gardener to contract the virus.
“The odds are really against us here. From the sewage spillage to the lack of resources to buy masks and sanitisers
“The ignorance and lack of information about the precautionary measures of the virus is rife in this place. I swear if one person catches it, that is if they haven’t already, it will be the end of all of us.”
Mashabela said that most of the people in the informal settlements either had small businesses or worked as taxi drivers, domestic workers and gardeners.
“Our general fear is that the domestic workers can contract this virus from their employees who always travel abroad.
“We are becoming so scared of the virus that we don’t even share a beer, drink from the same bottle or share a cigarette,” he said.
Thapelo Mokgahla said it was the lack of resources that was going to mark their demise.
He suggested the Department of Health provide mobile clinics around the informal settlement with masks and sanitisers.
“We also need health officials to come to explain to those who don’t have the information about the precautionary measures.
“You would be surprised how some just know the term coronavirus, but don’t actually have any idea that you can heal from it once you have it,” he said.
According to Mokgahla, only a third of the people were somewhat fully aware of the virus while others couldn’t care less. He was also worried about the toilet system they used.
“We dig holes to relieve ourselves, and all the faeces becomes scattered when it rains. Just imagine those germs that will be floating around.” He also complained that the shacks were in close proximity to each other. Didn’t they say we should be at least a metre away from each other?” he said.
Further afield in the SNS section, Surely Sithole was walking around with a mask on. “I don’t care if people think I’m paranoid. I will protect myself with all that I can.”
She said she had stocked up well on masks and sanitisers.