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COVID-19: Nigerians In South Africa Share Their Challenges To Survive Amid Lockdown

Posted by Samuel on Fri 09th Jul, 2021 -

A lawyer, Austin Okeke who lives in Johannesburg said, “Nobody could have predicted these worrying times.”

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Many Nigerians who reside in South Africa have shared disheartening tales of the impact of COVID-19 third wave on them as the country is presently on lockdown.

According to them, the situation has paralysed their businesses and other activities.

SaharaReporters spoke with two of them on Wednesday and they described the period as a trying time for them.

A lawyer, Austin Okeke who lives in Johannesburg said, “Nobody could have predicted these worrying times.”

While talking about the seriousness of the virus and how contagious it is, Okeke said, “Today alone there has been 411 COVID-19 related deaths in South Africa, bringing the overall total to over 64 thousand deaths.

“This is one of the highest number of infections since the pandemic, and the number of new cases keeps rising without any hope of subsiding due to the Winter weather.

"The deadly Delta variant is on the increase, the hospitals are full to the brim, oxygen cylinders are not enough to support the sick and the cemeteries have been very busy too. Nobody could have ever predicted these worrying times.”

He also talked about the lockdown on all public places as the South African government makes efforts to contain the pandemic.

“The country is on lockdown, schools have closed, churches and mosques have all been ordered to close. Restaurants are on complete lockdown except takeaways, the liquor stores are closed until further notice. Companies too have shut their doors and staff now work from home, for those who have been enabled with internet connection.

“Also, many companies and restaurants have permanently closed down due to the effects of COVID from 2020.

“Johannesburg, this time around is the epicentre of the 3rd wave with over 69 per cent of the total number of infections and number of deaths. Johannesburg is the commercial hub of South Africa, hence, causing a huge dent to the country's economy.

“Let me also say that the rate of unemployment in South Africa is at all-time high, fluctuating between 35 to 40 per cent. The mining industry and the manufacturing sector have shed more jobs than ever before.

“The government however has fast-tracked the rolling out of vaccines in order to contain the effects of the pandemic. Curfew is also placed between 8 pm and 6 am of the following day,”
Okeke narrated.

In his narration of how the pandemic has affected Nigerians in South Africa, Taofeek Turner, a nail technician, living in North West, Mafikeng City, disclosed that finances are low and bills are difficult to pay, as a result of a reduction in the sources of income negated by COVID-19 third wave.

“It’s very restricting as we are on lockdown. It’s a very serious thing but we are trying to survive. Survival is hard because most Nigerians working here are business owners and they are not able to go to work at this moment. Our finances are at high risk. Rent is hard to pay, due to low income gotten from our various means of income,”
Taofeek said.

When asked if government and banks give them loans to survive the hardship, he said such kind of an arrangement is meant for citizens. “We are not privileged. Only citizens can get that. God will help us. If you don’t have ID (identity cards), you can’t get such privileges. If you’re migrants and you have ID, that makes you a citizen.”

However, he talked about free health care for all South Africans and migrants. “Their hospitals are good and free. The medical services are at no cost at all.”

Reacting to the question of whether to come back to Nigeria, Taofeek said, “We can’t leave because Naija hard pass (We cannot leave because Nigeria is more problematic than South Africa). I tell people that all countries have their own problems, but with all these sad news we do hear about Naija (Nigeria), it’s better to stay here.”

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