South Africans mourn their coronavirus dead in many ways, but one of the country’s most poignant memorials is a simple display of ribbons tied to a church fence in Johannesburg.
Blue and white ribbons flutter from the fence surrounding St James Presbyterian Church in the suburb of Bedford Gardens, providing a striking visual reminder of just how many South Africans have died from the virus.
Each blue ribbon represents ten victims, and each white ribbon represents one.
The church fence isn’t big enough to keep pace, so officials have resorted to tying ribbons on both sides of the railings.
“When motorists stop to ask why we’re putting up ribbons, we tell them that it’s to pay respects to those who have been affected by that worldwide virus,” explained church caretaker Rhudzani Makuya.
While each death is first and foremost a calamity for family and friends left behind, it often has an economic impact too.
Thoko Ramutlalani from Soweto is still mourning her mother, who died from the virus four months ago.
But Ramutlalani, who’s unemployed and has three children, is also struggling financially as a result.
“My mom was the one who did everything for us around the house,” she said. “I’m struggling without her. Now I have to find a way to get food for us,” she said.
South Africa’s death toll now stands at more than 89,000 – the highest in the whole of Africa.