A student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has established a volunteer service, Cape Town Against Corona, to help the elderly during South Africa’s government mandated 21-day lockdown.

Kate Charter, a business science student, formed the group to help the elderly – who are at high risk of complications should they contract the coronavirus. 

Describing the initiative on the group’s FaceBook page, Charter wrote: “Volunteer service to deliver essentials to the elderly during the Covid-19 crisis. Anyone can sign up to help and anyone over the age of 50 can sign up to receive the free grocery/pharmaceuticals delivery.”

The group, launched in mid-March, has over 150 volunteers and the number continues to grow. Charter said she has received numerous offers of help from companies around the city.

The volunteers carry specific identity cards to show police and travel with an elderly person to avoid challenges with authorities.

In South Africa, 1 280 people have already contracted Covid-19, with the Western Cape being the province with the second-highest number of infections at 310, according to the health ministry.

To reduce the spread of the virus, president Cyril Ramaphosa instituted the lockdown, which started at midnight on Thursday, March 26.

“I was motivated by a wish to use my time away from university to do something productive that would bring about a positive from a very troublesome situation. I came across a similar organisation (now partnering with us) called Shopping Angels in the United States and found nothing had been set up in South Africa. I just took the initiative and set up Cape Town Against Corona,” Charter said, in a statement released by the university.

Students in Cape Town are helping the elderly with free delivery services. Photo: CTagainstCorona / Facebook

Last Thursday, the organisation assisted Meals on Wheels to deliver 500 meals to the elderly around Cape Town. 

“This is exactly what I wanted though, for the Cape Town community to come together and look out for each other; the organisation just being a platform to help this connection happen,” Charter said.