By Ntombifuthi Sangweni
From when I was younger, I never saw the need to get my vegetables at known retailers like Shoprite and Pick n pay. My mom used to send me to uMam’khozi to get a bag full of a variety of vegetables for R30. This was the norm where I grew up, and we all knew where to go to get our fruits and vegetables. As much as love has always been there, a few days leading to the lockdown I witnessed something beautiful in the street of Johannesburg.
On My way back from work- while walking around Johannesburg CBD- I was in awe and proud to be South African when I saw people standing in queues to buy vegetables from street vendors. Most of their stock was sold out, which is something that hardly happens. Yes, they probably fell into the trap to panic buy after hearing news about the lockdown that was pending. It all started on social media a few days before the COVID-19 lockdown. Hashtags such as #Supportstreetvendors and local celebrities like King Monanda and Somizi committed themselves to this cause encouraged South Africans to buy from street vendors. The one important takeaway from the effect of this virus is that it reminded us of what it means to be human, it has brought us together and further reminded us that we are a collective and much more connected than we think.
It has now been several weeks into the lockdown, the government has made a decision to let street vendors back onto the street to sell their goods. However, it is not the same. A question arises, who are they supposed to sell to when people are locked down in their homes? This seems to be more of a loss to street vendors because now, they cannot generate an income. People are also now less trusting of the goods on the streets because they fear that the food may be contaminated with the virus.
It is clear that this is more than just a battle with the pandemic, but also a battle between the livelihoods of every individual in South Africa as well as the healthcare system. Both these factors are important and have dire consequences if any of them are ignored. This, indeed, is the time for us to work together with the government so that we can come out of this chaotic time victorious and ready for the reconstruction of our country. It is up to us all to make sacrifices in our small spaces and endure as the trying journey to flatten the curve.
Featured image sourced online