How to manage to confine an entire country, when a large part of the population lives in misery? Police and army have chosen force. Press review of South African newspapers on the chaotic early days of containment.
The images are breathtaking. The military has been deployed to control containment in the sensitive Alexandra neighborhood of Johannesburg. But social networks have also widely published images showing members of the police molesting residents, in Alexandra and in other townships of the country, to enforce containment.
“I am staying in one room with five others, how can I stay in there all day? They must just come and arrest us,” he replied. https://t.co/sJUC5oYI6V
– thato noinyane (@ThatoN) March 29, 2020
(I live in one room with five other people. How can I stay here all day? They just have to come and stop us)
The army and the police are accused of abuse of powerr, and in particular humiliation when it imposes physical exercises on arrested offenders. The press reports many slippages. Use of a water cannon on customers lining up in front of a store, unjustified intrusion into homes, shooting of rubber bullets disproportionately.
The Ministry of Defense recognized and condemned these excessive uses of force against the inhabitants.
Worse, March 29 in Gauteng, a man was shot in his garden by a patrol composed of a police officer and a private security officer. The latter were chasing a group caught consuming alcohol during the confinement. For the time being, only the security guard is imprisoned.
Police and Soldiers are gonna kill our people faster than Corona Virus.
I'm shuttered, RIP Sibusiso Amos from Vosloorus #SANDF
– Son of Biko (@Owami_Dlamini) March 30, 2020
(The police and the army will kill our people faster than the corona virus)
Actions that heat up a black and poor population. According to some politicians, they recall the dark hours of apartheid. Actions which, according to the newspaper Mail & Guardian, “seem to contradict the words of President Ramaphosa”. Who was waiting for the police and the army to act with “as much understanding and respect as possible”.
A very different image comes from campaigns where activity continues as usual. Resident from Haarlem, Western Cape Province, reports the newspaper Cape times that the arborists continue to pick their fruit. Groups of workers board the trucks to reach the orchards. “There is no verification, no visible police. The situation is out of control”, he concludes. Obviously, containment is slow to materialize here.
And like everywhere in the world, profiteers abound in these difficult times. Thus, some entrepreneurs do not hesitate to impose on their employees scandalous working conditions to increase production. A summit having been reached by a mask manufacturer from Durban. He locked up a whole week 14 employees in his workshop to produce more masks which are lacking here too.
Trade is also pointed out. Authorities have announced that they will investigate 300 complaints about excessive price increases of basic necessities. Hydroalcoholic gels, masks, but also toilet paper are the most affected. Some establishments are justified, according to the authorities, by the return to a normal price following promotions in January-February.
In contrast, other, more civic distributors have announced a price freeze for the containment period. The price control committee also noted an escalation in the prices of agricultural products: corn, wheat, onions, carrots, etc.
Meanwhile the ocean liner Queen Mary 2 docks in Durban to let six South African crew members disembark. The thousand passengers will resume their journey, returning to Australia without having seen South Africa …