‘The thing I miss the most? Not seeing Liverpool lift the trophy’

For Titch Fraser, 75, a resident of the Ocean View old aged home in Musgrave, Durban, the worst things about the 21-day lockdown imposed in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, are the lack of football on TV and not seeing his children and grandchildren.

The former Telkom administrator, who has lived at Ocean View for the past five years with his wife Jean, 59, is a Liverpool fan, so he’s devastated by the possibility the club might lose out on the English Premier League title, despite being 20 points to the good.

Like the rest of the 1900 residents of 13 Durban homes run by The Association for the Aged (Tafta), Fraser and the other residents of the 30-unit Ocean View home have been under lockdown since Friday morning.

“I have to change my life quite a lot. There’s a lot of things we can’t do now. The biggest upset for me is that there is no football.

“I’m a Liverpool supporter. It’s tragic that we might not win the league, after being 20 points ahead,” Fraser said in a telephone interview this week.

“There are a lot of let downs, but life has to go on. What else can you do? The whole world is going backwards at the moment. I’m sure we will come out of it in the end, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Under normal circumstances, Fraser is a groundskeeper at the Berea Bowling Club and coaches cricket twice a week at the Glenwood Preparatory School, a few kilometres away. “I’m a bit worried about the grass to be honest. It will probably be as tall as me by the time I get back there,” he said.

Since Thursday, the keen gardener has spent a lot more time “pottering around with my plants” and “staying out of Jean’s way while she cleans the house”.

“The plants here are already looking better, so I guess something good is coming from all of this,” he said.

Fraser’s visits from his son and daughter have had to stop because of the lockdown. “It’s a bit of a bind, but these are extreme circumstances,” he said.


He concedes that Covid-19, which is particularly dangerous for older people, scares him. “I’ve never experienced something as scary as this,” he said. “This is the biggest thing I have ever encountered.’’

At Tafta’s John Conradie building in South Beach, the 300 residents have adapted quickly to life under lockdown.

Most of the activities, from walks on the beach to card games and prayer meetings, have been halted to allow for physical distancing and improved hygiene. Residents now eat their meals in groups of 50 in the dining hall in shifts.

Agnes Gcabashe, 72, a floor monitor who has been living in the home which overlooks the Ushaka Marine World and the new southern promenade for three years, said residents were taking the Covid-19 threat seriously.

“I am scared of this thing. We all are. We know that Covid-19 is very dangerous for old people like us. As we speak we are all in our rooms. We watch TV to find out what is happening around the country and in the world,’’ she said.

A retired invoice clerk with Pick n Pay for 30 years, Gcabashe, who retired in 2006, moved into John Conradie after living first with her daughter, Zama, an air hostess with SAA, and later with her son, Vusumuzi, who lives in Smith Street.

She misses her weekly visits from Vusumuzi’s children, Naledi, 14, and Lethukuthula, 10. “They come to see me every weekend. They love it. They come to the first floor and sit with us.”

She added: “We make sure that we follow the rules set by the government and Tafta to keep us safe. We are only allowed to go out once a week to buy what we need. We have to sign a register so that nobody cheats.  There are signs all over about how we should conduct ourselves.’’

Gabashe said she was happy to follow the restrictions, although they did cramp her lifestyle.

“We used to walk along the beach at 5pm every day with my friends. We can’t do it now. I miss it. I can’t go to church. Normally I go every week. Now at this time of Lent I will be inside,” she said. “As I’m sitting here I’m praying, asking God to have mercy on us, more especially us old people. We have to pray.”

Tafta director Femada Shamam said 150 staff members went into lockdown with the residents to ensure they were well looked after.

While this improved security and safety of the residents, it had driven up costs, placing additional strain on Tafta’s budgets.“We are seeking funding support, but it is extremely difficult, given the pressure on funding sources right now.”

Shamam said that the two people placed in isolation after returning from abroad had not shown any symptoms nor tested positive for Covid-19.

“We’ve been in lockdown now for a week and we’re extremely proud of how well our staff have managed the various challenges they’ve had to overcome, including intensive education of some of the elders who haven’t yet realised the risks involved in leaving our buildings.”

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.
Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday