Members of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) patrol the streets of Alexandra, Johannesburg, 27 March 2020, on the first day of the national 21 day shut down. They were there in an attempt enforce quarantine laws that came into effect yesterday. Residents came out in their numbers to see the spectacle. Picture: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Exactly a year ago, just after 8.10pm, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would go into 21 days of lockdown in an attempt to “flatten the curve” of Covid-19 infections.

“It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country,” Ramaphosa said at the time.

The nationwide lockdown was enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and entailed people staying home and going out for essentials only. Restaurants, gyms, liquor stores and clothing retails stores were among a number of businesses that were not allowed to operate.

In the days that followed Ramaphosa’s announcement, various ministers and government departments outlined exactly what the lockdown meant, along with what people could and couldn’t do.

At the time of his address, there were 402 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. Ramaphosa said there was a fear numbers would continue to rise.

“Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease. I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage and many people will not be able to access the care they need,” he said.

 

TimesLIVE asked readers what the most important lessons were that they learnt from the hard lockdown, and below is a snapshot of what they said:

Sinixollo Zakade said: “I learnt that without alcohol the country becomes very peaceful, less accidents, less hospital admissions. For the first time in a long time crime was less like never before. It’s clear if law can be applied end this nightlife thing; clubs tavern close at 10 and SAPS ensure that it happens roam around all places we can have the most disciplined country.”

Xolani Mthimkhulu said: “I learnt that life as you know it can REALLY come to an abrupt halt. That there are situations in life where no amount of money can rescue you. Without God life is vanity.”

Maria Motlalile said: “I learn to take care of everything serious, health, savings, people I love, new ways of doing things, business upgrade to technology actually it’s a lot. But Corruption made me open my eyes Trust No one.”

Haras Mzilikazi: “I’ve learnt the importance of saving and how important is it to spend time with my family and share meals, games jokes … and just bond. And that … for the sake of making a living, sometimes we forget to actually live.”

Charlie Dlamini: “That is easy to save up when alcohol is not available & we look deceivingly responsible when it comes to saving kanti is not by choice.”

Terry Moeti: “I’ve learnt how to cook full chicken, how to stay sober for 2 months and watch the cartoons once again.”

@Tshedza-mu said: “That people only go out to have fun because they don’t wanna have to deal with family issues and their own traumas, I feel like the lockdown and the pandemic itself has made people realise a lot about the current conditions of humanity, sort of like a forced self-reflection.”

@LiloVill said: “That you can go from affording to begging in a snap … Hate lockdown, hate this virus. But things are getting better.”

@DrKoebz: “Being autistic and an introvert can be truly a strength. The creativity that comes with the isolation can make for highly creative thinking. Also, small talk is much more important than one realises and we take it for granted too much.”

@gurl_selly: “I learnt that life is uncertain, humans cannot always control everything and people can steal no matter what.”

@mthoka2: “21 days= 361 days.”

@SharkboyDBN: “Always keep the home bar stocked.”