Jetro Gonese, a Zimbabwean immigrant in South Africa, says lockdown has deprived the blind of their compass.

“Touch is what we call the queen sense. It enables us to recognise and identify most things... the texture of surfaces, your skin or your hand. It is very central in our lives.”

“It is dangerous for us to shake hands or touch any surfaces because you might contract the disease,” Gonese said, adding that police enforcing lockdown rules had chased him home the few times he ventured outdoors.

“So communication has been very difficult for us... because we are afraid to touch things.”
Another Zimbabwean, Enok Mukanhairi said he went back to his usual begging spot last week, encouraged by a gradual easing of lockdown restrictions since the start of May.

He struggled to find his bearings around people who spoke through face masks and kept a distance.

“If you are putting a mask at times we cannot hear your voice properly. Some of them cannot even release the voice tune which we are used to,” he added. “So it affects how quickly I can identify (a person).”

Mukanhairi said fewer drivers rolled down their car windows as he stood by the traffic light.

“I am very worried about catching coronavirus, but not as much as getting food.”