Home News Vehicle tracking data reveals which South Africans are abiding by lockdown regulations

Vehicle tracking data reveals which South Africans are abiding by lockdown regulations


The number of cars on the road in less populated provinces, like the Northern Cape, only reduced by around 65 percent.

THOSE who live in affluent suburbs in large cities appear to be abiding by South Africa’s national lockdown regulations more than their counterparts in townships and those who live in less populated provinces, like the Northern Cape, where the number of cars on the road only reduced by around 65 percent.

This is according to research released this week, which analysed vehicle movement comparisons before and during the country’s national lockdown.

During the current Covid-19 lockdown, people are allowed to use their vehicles, but permitted trips are limited to visits to the grocery store, pharmacy or to access essential services.

While the data, compiled by vehicle tracking company Tracker and data analytics company Lightstone, only took into account the movement of South Africans in the first week of the stay-home order, it paints a picture of the behaviour of South Africans during this unprecedented period.

The report revealed that an overwhelming majority of people in the nine provinces have been abiding by the new temporary regulations in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

This was evident in Tracker and Lightstone’s findings, which showed that vehicle activity had already dropped by up to 20% before the lockdown.

However, since the lockdown was officially implemented on March 27, vehicle activity fell by between 75-80% in Gauteng and the Western Cape. In the less populated provinces like the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the North West, vehicle movement only reduced by between 60-65%.

In the Free State, motorists decreased their time on the province’s streets and roads by 70-75% while those in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo only reduced their time in vehicles by about 65-70%.

Levels of lockdown regulation compliance also vastly differed for residents in different areas of each province.

Those living in and around the plush Sandton suburbs reduced their vehicle movement by over 90%, followed by 80-90% of other Joburg suburbs, including Randburg, Roodepoort, Boksburg and Kempton Park whose passenger compliance was between 80-90%. This was not the case in outlying areas of the city including Katlehong, Soweto, Tsakane, and Tembisa where vehicle movement decreased by 60-70%.

There was a similar situation in the Western Cape where researchers found that those living in the upmarket areas in and around Franschhoek, Noordhoek, Simon’s Town and Hout Bay stayed in their homes more than those in more under-developed areas such as Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain.

But remaining within the confines of a home is not as easy for some as it is for others, explained Gareth Newham, head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies. “It is much easier for people who live in cities and in more affluent areas to stay at home than those who live in townships or less populated provinces.

“They usually have more money to buy goods in bulk ahead of the lockdown and have bigger houses, gardens and more resources to keep themselves busy.”

But for others, living in one place for an extended amount of time is more challenging. 

“Those who live in townships or outside the big cities are often cramped in small houses, sometimes even shacks and back rooms, and they didn’t have the money to stockpile goods and now have to go to the shops every few days.”

Their limited resources also meant that they were less informed. Those who did not live in big cities might feel less threatened by the spread of the coronavirus and be less inclined to stay at home, said Newham.

“Gauteng is the epicentre of Covid-19 and those who live there are scared they might get it so they are more likely to stay at home. Those in the Northern Cape, for example, might feel like they are less likely to contract the virus because there are less cases reported there.”

Not all areas will be able to curtail movement to exactly the same extent due to travel by essential services workers, said Linda Reid, the head of data for Lightstone.

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