As South Africa gears up for a 21-day national lockdown, many shops were yesterday left with empty shelves as people stocked up on essential items.
Makro at Wonderboom shopping centre was packed with people pushing trolleys full of alcohol, toilet paper, canned food and other items such as chairs and microwaves.
Despite being advised not to panic-buy, many said they would not take the chance.
Marisa Schoeman said she was not sure how she would cope during the lockdown and did not know what to expect. She said she would make sure she didn’t leave the house unnecessarily.
“The most important items for now are enough disinfectant and soap. I don’t want to leave my house if I don’t have to because now there are just too many people with the virus and nobody knows where they are,” she said.
A car guard at the centre said the store opened at 8.30am, but people started queueing at 6am.
The Evergreen store, in the Tshwane Market, which sells fresh produce, was also packed yesterday.
Lebohang Rapesiwa said he had to borrow money from family members to make sure he could buy enough food.
He said although he was not sure if it would last the three-week lockdown, he at least had tried to prepare for whatever might happen.
Many other people said they were scared and admitted that they were unsettled by the outbreak.
Another shopper said he had spent close to R8000. “People think that 21 days will pass just like that, but it can be a very long time, especially if you are sitting at home doing nothing. What will you do? The first thing you think of is food. The children are home and they are bored.”
Woolworths in Equestria Centre in Pretoria East by early yesterday had already run out of meat.
By lunchtime, frantic shoppers were faced with empty shelves, but this did not stop them from piling trolleys with canned goods and other consumables still available.
This was in spite of signs at the shop that there was no need for panic-buying because the store would regularly stock up.
But it was the liquor shop in the centre which was doing a roaring trade. There were long queues of people who piled their trolleys high with beer, wine, and other spirits.
One man quite happily paid more than R3 000 for his purchases. He said, “One never knows how long this will last.”
The boxed-wine aisles ran empty and the staff had to keep filling them up.
The beauty shop displayed a large sign that it had sanitisers in stock, which had prompted the public to buy in bulk. Many said they could not believe their luck that they could find hand sanitizers at a time like this.
While boasting that the sanitizers consisted of 89% alcohol, it was clear that it was handmade and was being sold at R95 for 500ml.
One of the workers said the demand for sanitizers was so high that they were running out of stock.
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Source: Pretoria News