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SITHOBELWENI – The partial lockdown has come as a huge inconvenience for some elderly people. One of them actually noted that she could not recall the last time she made a fire to cook a meal, mainly because she could no longer move around from one homestead to another selling her merchandise.

Tsiwani Dvuba (82) of Sithobelweni who eked a living by collecting and selling used cans and bottles for recycling, made these remarks yesterday after about 60 elderly people from Sithobelweni Constituency were showered with food hampers by Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) traditional healer Guensta Ikartachi. The food hampers included bags of rice, beans, eggs and masks. Sithobelweni is one of the poverty stricken rural areas in the country and is situated along the boundary line of Lubombo and Shiselweni regions.

She said life had not been easy for her family since the scrap yard where they sold the cans and bottles was closed and they were strongly warned against continuing with their business, mainly because they might ‘collect’ the deadly virus.
“You cannot believe it that I do not even remember when I last made fire to cook at home,” the elderly woman said.

She said by collecting and selling the used cans and bottles for recycling, she used to make about E600 per bale on average as Member of Parliament (MP) Bhekitje Dlamini used to transport her free of charge. On the same note, Thoko Masuku (73) of Sithobelweni, who lives with a family of seven, including her unemployed sickly son and six grandchildren, said she survived through selling free range chickens.


While they noted that the partial lockdown came with food challenges, they also commended government for strengthening the measures aimed at minimising the spread of the virus.
They said they were afraid that they would contract and die from the coronavirus as the relaxed partial lockdown allowed children to roam around the country freely.

On that note, Dvuba said as the elderly, they were shivering in fear for their lives under the relaxed partial lockdown. In fact, Dvuba, who lives with her six grandchildren, said the relaxed partial lockdown would leave the country with more child-headed families. The elderly woman said this was because during the 20-day partial lockdown, movement of people was minimal and they felt protected from the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, she said after government had relaxed the partial lockdown, the youth roamed around freely as public transport vehicles were working normal hours. She said this exposed their children and grandchildren to the virus.
She said their concern was that the COVID-19 statistics had proven that the elderly suffered the most and had slim chances of surviving because most of them, especially the poor and sick, had a weak immune system.

“We survive under this relaxed partial lockdown through the Lord,” Dvuba said. She said the only thing that could save their lives was a strengthened lockdown as opposed to a partial lockdown.


After receiving the donation from the DRC traditional healer, the elderly welcomed government’s move of supplying the needy with food hampers. They said this would help in limiting movement of people.

They added that by so doing, the country could flatten the curve without recording many casualties. So far, there is one person who has died of COVID-19 related sickness in the country.
Note: Interviews were conducted before government revoked the relaxed partial lockdown.

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