Less than 48 hours into ‘lock-down’ it has become painfully clear that many South African’s have refused to accept the need to self-isolate to slow, and hopefully contain, COVID-19 contagion. News websites abound with stories describing transgressions of the rules governing the ‘lock-down’ announced by government and correspondents from this publication have witnessed several examples of non-compliance in the city of Kimberley.
To those who believe that they still enjoy the right to move around without restriction, to socialize in numbers and jog, walk your dog or just ‘hang-out’ with friends; your behaviour is reprehensible, seriously anti-social and downright unintelligent. It is also illegal in terms of the Regulations made in terms of the Disaster Management Act of 2002.
It is hard to see why this selfish group of people think that non-compliance is acceptable. Do they think that they aren’t susceptible to infection? Are they just not clever enough to grasp the gravity of the situation? Or perhaps they just don’t care. Either way, their behaviour is dangerous to us all and the authorities must be urged to act against transgressors without leniency, failing which they will be judges to be derelict in their duty.
By now there is incontrovertible evidence in the city of Wuhan in China of the demonstrable success of social distancing as a means to slowing and halting contagion and saving lives. More importantly, when compared to experiences elsewhere such as in Italy and Spain, where the implementation of ‘lock-down’ measures was delayed and less stringent (and where thousands are now dying daily), China, South Korea and Singapore have proven that extreme measures and discipline are a means to defeating the virus.
That some South Africans continue to display chronic levels of deliberate ignorance and willful irresponsibility by disobeying their government is unacceptable and shameful. If you are one of the guilty you are a disgrace and a danger to yourself, your family and the country. Sadly, South Africans are renowned for their lack of discipline and respect for authority. It is these contemptible qualities that define a range of anti-social behavioural traits in our society and sustain crime, corruption and a range of other social ills.
But, now is not the time for civil disobedience or to test or defy the legitimacy of the State. It is time to show the highest standards of morally correct behaviour and self-discipline and to obey the rules as set out by President Ramaphosa when he announced the ‘lock-down’. South Africa does not have a health-care system nor the financial resources to cope with an uncontained outbreak of COVID-19. The more citizens that defy the regulations the longer it will take to “flatten the curver” of infection and the longer the ‘lock-down’ will have to remain in effect. Failure to contain the virus now will make the death rates in Italy, the World’s eighth biggest economy, of around a thousand people a day pale into insignificance.
Your choice is simple, conform or die. And if your recklessness sees you become infected and transmit the virus to someone who later dies you should be charged with murder.