The Empaths tribe is a group of people whose empathy radars were activated after witnessing the hard times many South Africans are going through because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite what they themselves may be experiencing, they have stepped in to help others less fortunate than themselves.
We highlighted this group in our recent Post-pandemic Tribes trend briefing. Now the trend is being amplified in response to the national unrest which has seen deaths, injuries and destruction of property. Many businesses have been plunged into financial difficulty. People have lost their jobs and are no longer able to feed themselves.
Once again the Empaths have come together to mitigate the effects of the unrest.
Taxi associations have banded together to protect shopping malls around South Africa. “The leadership of the industry strongly warns those with intentions to loot to desist from any attempts as they will find the industry waiting,” said Abner Tsebe, chairperson of Santaco, the SA National Taxi Council. Thus far, they have assisted in preventing malls from being looted and have helped the police at roadblocks.
Civilians and private security personnel have taken a stand against the mayhem, patrolling neighboUrhoods to prevent looters entering residential areas.
Food security has become a major concern. Many supermarkets have been destroyed and supply chains have been disrupted to the extent that there is growing concern over the availability of groceries. The price of bread in certain parts of Kwazulu-Natal has doubled and many have had to wait in long queues to buy food from the places that still have stock. South Africa may face bread shortages – a staple – as wheat and yeast are in short supply. In response, citizens in different parts of the country have been baking bread to hand out to those in need.
In the aftermath of the destruction, clean-up operations by volunteers have begun. Social media groups have been popping up to coordinate such efforts. ‘RebuildSA – Volunteers Group’ is a Facebook group that at the time of writing had almost 55,000 members. They aim to help those who have been affected and to clean up looted areas. “We’re at Alexandra now. Ready to clean up around Pan Africa Shopping Centre”, says one member of the group. Potentially at risk from COVID-19, people are nevertheless coming out in their numbers.
The solidarity and empathy that South Africans have been demonstrating in the wake of this crisis has been inspiring. They are declaring that further looting and destruction will not be tolerated.
By Faeeza Khan
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Image credit: Puwadon Sang-ngern