Looking back at 2020

Covid-19 dominated headlines this year as the pandemic brought the world to a standstill.

However, the Tatler continued to share the community stories that mattered.

Looking back on the stories were featured in 2020, January started like any other year with the release of the matric results and two Rondebosch Boys’ High School pupils being among the top achievers in the country.

There was also heartbreak in January when well known Woodstock police spokesman Warrant Officer Hilton Malila died suddenly from a suspected heart attack at the age of 46.

In February, while news about the “unknown” virus in Wuhan, China, was gaining some traction, there was some positive news at home.

District Six claimants and various organisations felt a sense of hope and optimism when the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform came up with a workable solution to redevelop District Six.

In March, the harsh reality that Covid-19 had arrived in the country finally hit home.

Our first case in South Africa was announced on Thursday March 5 and then the first case in the province was confirmed at Tygerberg Hospital on Wednesday March 11.

As cases slowly started to rise, the South African government took drastic measures, first when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on Sunday March 15 and then, a week later, when he declared a national lockdown.

The whole country – apart from essential services – was shutdown, along with the economy, to give health-care workers time to prepare for the approaching Covid-19 wave.

On that first day of lockdown, the city resembled a “ghost town”– once-bustling streets were empty.

From the beginning of the hard lockdown, going into April, many people who were unable to work and could not put food on the table relied on various feeding schemes, both big and small, that were emerging to help the poor and vulnerable.

With the government making it compulsory for people to wear masks in public, many volunteers stepped up to ensure there were masks for those who could not afford them. Henry Ludski’s small business helped with that effort.

Woodstock business owner, Henry Ludski who started making free masks.

While the public was still adjusting to the “new normal”, front-line workers at Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital were feeling the strain. Groote Schuur was short of staff in May as nurses, doctors and porters started falling ill with the virus.The children’s hospital opened a Covid-19 screening facility in June to cope with the rising cases.

As Covid-19 deaths started to rise, each one left its mark on the family and friends of the victim.The death of anti-apartheid activist Dr Anwah Nagiain September was mourned by various organisations and by his close friend Judge Siraj Desai. Queens Park High School mourned the death of popular teacher Dereck Dreyer.

As lockdown eased to level 1, restaurants, pubs, theatres, cinemas,beaches and parks have reopenedbut the danger of “superspreader”events remains.One such event at Tin Roof, a Claremont nightclub (which had reopened as a pub), at the beginning of October, resulted in 63 people testing positive for the virus.

While Covid-19 has delivered its fair share of tragedy and ruin, it has, through the Community Action Networks (CAN), also united communities long divided by apartheid’s legacy. The Rondebosch CAN has worked with the Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum CAN (JPF-CAN) on various Covid-19 relief projects benefiting Bonteheuwel. And the Harfield Village Association formed a partnership with two Hanover Park organisations.

As the year draws to a close, the Covid-19 second wave has arrived,and hospitals are appealing to the public not to let their guard down.

In an emotional video appeal, Dr Richardo Titus, False Bay Hospital’s emergency centre supervisor, urged the public to take Covid-19 seriously.