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A tale of two suburbs: Covid-19 in Bonteheuwel and Elsies River

27 May 2020 12:49 PM

We take a look at how communities in two of the most impoverished suburbs in Cape Town are dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

'The reality of Covid has never really filtered through to the ground' says Elsies River community activist Imraan Mukadam.

The suburb is one of the communities in Cape Town's badly hit Tygerberg health sub-district.

A total of five areas within the Cape Town metro have been identified by government as 'hotspots', areas that have more than 5 infected people per every 100,000 people or where new infections are increasing rapidly.

Mukadam says is parts of Elsies River it looks like business as usual.

The more impoverished areas of Leonsdale and Clarke Estate it would be difficult to know that there is a lockdown happening because of the amount of activity that is happening.

Imraan Mukadam, Community activist - Elsies River

I think a lot of people are uneducated and uncommitted to the process of preserving life and understanding the seriousness of the situation.

Imraan Mukadam, Community activist - Elsies River

So why is the message not getting through to those particular communities?

I think it has to do with the culture of survival...the people of Elsies River are consistently in survival mode.

Imraan Mukadam, Community activist - Elsies River

Meanwhile, the community of Bonteheuwel has been making great strides during the national lockdown.

Since the lockdown started, 50 soup kitchens have been feeding nearly 5 000 people breakfast, lunch and supper on a daily basis, supported by the likes of Springbok Captain, Siya Kolisi and most recently the Change Makers Hub.

Ward counselor, Angus McKenzie says when lockdown started there were two very critical things he wanted to achieve:

[First] how do I communicate with people to ensure we adhere to regulations.

Angus McKenzie, Ward Councillor for Bonteheuwel - City of Cape Town

The second most important thing was how do we make sure people are going to eat?

Angus McKenzie, Ward Councillor for Bonteheuwel - City of Cape Town

McKenzie says setting up Whatsapp groups for each street in Bonteheuwel has been key:

It was brilliant because they were people who were completely confused when lockdown started...

Angus McKenzie, Ward Councillor for Bonteheuwel - City of Cape Town

We just said, in each street, let us allocate one person that can cook food.

Angus McKenzie, Ward Councillor for Bonteheuwel - City of Cape Town

Listen below to find out how communities in Bonteheuwel are coping during lockdown:


27 May 2020 12:49 PM

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