• September 29, 2020

South Africans Protest Against Lockdown. Robbers Wreak Havoc in Nigeria

Armed Robbery, Hunger, frustration, protests and looting have broken out all over South Africa and Nigeria in recent days, posing the greatest threat to these nations’ well-being and security during the lockdown.

In both countries, frustration is spilling over on to the streets uncontrollably so.

In Lagos and Ogun State in Nigeria, armed robbery is now the order of the day – people are currently living in fear.

According to Guardian newspaper in Nigeria: “If you are going to bed this night, split your pot of soup into two and drop a portion at the entrance of your apartment with a big loaf of bread. When the Awawa Boys (robbers) appear, they will see the sacrifice and pass you by,” a Lagos resident advised troubled citizens residing in Alimosho area of the state, the epicenter of robbery attacks in the last few days in what has been termed ‘Hungervirus’ on the streets.”

In South Africa, this week alone, grocery stores have been looted and protests have broken out on the Cape Flats, Khayelitsha, Alexandra and Chatsworth and other areas.

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Armed Robbery Threat Send Jitters Down The Spines of Nigerians

Part of the logistical challenge is getting food to millions of South Africans in need – to cool frayed nerves.

Like a man who went naked in Nigeria preferring Covid-19 death to hunger, Cape Flats ward councillor Bongani Ngcani was quoted by News24 as saying: “A man told me: ‘I would rather die of Covid-19 than of hunger’ ”.

Another Nigerian woman said she would prostitute than die of hunger.

In South Africa, the challenges are enormous: There is lack of existing capacity to distribute food plus lack of data on who needs support.

There is also the problem of health and safety against the backdrop of social distancing when people queue to get food. This is compounded politicisation of the food distribution process with evident lack of organisation and coordination of the whole process.

According to the Daily Maverick: ““The department of social development has an existing provincially based food distribution programme, but their capacity is [feeding] under 300,000 nationally,” Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) researcher Marius Oosthuizen told Daily Maverick.

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Oosthuizen is one of a number of local academics who have been working on the problem of food security and distribution during the lockdown.

“Just in Gauteng, by the department of social development’s admission, the need in April will go up to 300,000 needing support,” says Oosthuizen.

By May, that number may rise to 3.2 million.”

Africa has shown lack of capacity to handle a crisis of this magnitude – a product of perennial systemic failures of governments across the continent.

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Femi Oshin

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