On the 09th April 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa declared an extension of the nation-wide lockdown. The nation-wide lockdown to proceed until the end of April 2020 in South Africa. The lives of many have been disrupted and uncertainty has risen. Many have lost their income and our economy has ground to a halt (South African Government:2020). This daunting period has risen many questions of what will be after COVID-19?
Phiwe Mncwabe is a South African resident in the Western side of Johannesburg. An Afrikan feminist, born storyteller, avid reader and dabbler of note. A lover of the African continent, aspiring to travel across Africa. She is aspiring to become a strategic problem solver in social and developmental challenges facing Africa. In isolation of her interests in activism, she has explored academia in the field of social sciences in Development studies. She is writing, reading and searching to enter writing spaces in Africa. For more reflections and conversations you can write to [email protected]
According to the South African Government (2020) on the 27th March 2020 cases confirmed were 1170. The cases confirmed on the 19th April 2020 are at 3158, with 903 recoveries and 54 deaths (South African Department of Health). Two weeks before the lockdown the daily average increase of cases was around 42%. Since the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown the daily increase has decreased to around 4% (South African Government). The decision to lockdown the country to contain the spread of COVID19 yielded a decrease in the percentage of daily increases. However, there is an increase in social issues.
During this daunting challenge, the Teddy Bear Clinic has seen more than 25 cases of children who have been abused during the nation-wide lockdown (Nicolaides, Eyewitness News). According to Nicolaides,(Eyewitness News:2020) children have also witnessed their mothers being abused, others raped and sexually assaulted. The Teddy Bear Clinic is an organisation that responds to sexually abused children in South Africa.
Children are very vulnerable during the nation-wide lockdown. It is very vital for us to understand that some children are not safe in their homes. They live with and around predators. It is organisations such as the Teddy Bear Clinic and many children focused NGOs that remind us the importance of collective support to break free from child abuse. The distressful reality is that perpetrators are found in our homes. The biological fathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, cousins, and pastors.
The arrival of COVID19 stripped the liberation of our children. It has silenced their voices and brought more tears in their eyes. It will introduce unwanted pregnancies and continue to steal their innocence. Our government did not prepare for the protection of our children. They are marginalised because many cannot speak for themselves.
How it is possible for us to believe that children living in townships or informal settlements with 10 people in a single room will be safe? How certain are we if they will have access to three meals a day? The harsh realities that COVID 19 welcomed have a great impact on our children.
COVID19 repurposed the role of schools in our communities. School is not just an education channel however, a safety net for our children. It is places like school that remove children from places of abuse or potential areas of abuse. It is school that ensure our little ones are being fed.
Paedophiles are lurking, on the very streets that we walk on to collect the food parcels. The safety of our children is severely compromised. I write this with a heavy heart because we could not predict the effect that COVID19 would have on South Africa. In addition, the safety of our children.
A call to protect our children in these trying times. A call for the neighbours or teachers to check in on the children in their communities. A call for the parents to constantly talk to their children so that the children will have courage to report abuse. A call to the nation to be alert in their communities and report suspicious acts. Let us take charge and not forget about our children as we continue to fight the spread of COVID19.