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Business as usual in Umsinga town centre as Covid-19 cases rise in SA

Business as usual in Umsinga town centre as Covid-19 cases rise in SA
Bongi Sithole-Moloi, the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development and Land Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal with Thembi Maureen Ngubane demonstrating to other farmers on the usage of hand sanitiser. Picture: Supplied

Durban - While Bongi Sithole-Moloi, the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development and Land Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal was busy dispensing sanitisers to a group of farmers, merely a kilometre away, it was business as usual in a small town of Umsinga in the Midlands.

Despite police presence patrolling on Thursday, vegetable stalls were buzzing with long queues for child support grants. Women from nearby villages queued until late afternoon without observing a one-metre social distance rule.

A vegetable vendor Hleziphi Ngubane, 56, said she could not fold her arms while her grandchildren had no food.

"It is not an ideal situation to place our lives in danger but we have no choice, we need money to buy food. We rely on selling vegetables to grant beneficiaries and pensioners to survive," she said. 

Government on Thursday lifted the ban on informal food traders selling goods during the lockdown.

However, Sithole-Moloi who visited subsistence farmers to create awareness while dispensing hand sanitiser urged both livestock and vegetable farmers to wash their hands regularly to avoid the spread of the virus. 

She said Covid-19 did not discriminate along racial lines but the transmission could stop when people observed the social distance by staying home. 

She handed over fifty bales of hale to livestock farmers affected by the outbreak of armyworms before committing herself to issue out permits to farmers to be able to move their produce to the markets.

"We understand farmers have pressure to sustain the food value chain by producing more food for the markets during a lockdown period. We will supply more bags of fertiliser," she said.  

Crop farmers complained that the lockdown has hampered their livelihood because there were restrictions put in place preventing them to sell to the community. 

Sunday Tribune