Community perceptions and experiences of the South African government’s response to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Johannesburg, South Africa

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments in low- and middle-income countries largely followed the strategy of national lockdowns adopted by high-income countries. The South African government imposed some the most restrictive policies in the world. In this article, we examine the perceptions and lived experiences of South Africans in Johannesburg in relation to this initial response to the pandemic. In-depth interviews were conducted with a diverse group of 38 South African adults in Johannesburg, South Africa. The analysis followed an inductive approach. The data revealed that the majority of participants had a positive view of the strong response to the first wave of the pandemic by the South African government, including the restrictive lockdown measures. However, concerns regarding the government’s response included worries about the economy and livelihoods of poor people under lockdown, divisions in compliance between townships and wealthier communities, poor funding in the healthcare sector, corruption and nepotism in the distribution of government aid, and the lack of cultural adaptation of awareness-raising campaigns about COVID-19. The ability of governments to gauge how populations perceive the effectiveness of public health measures is essential for identifying obstacles to disease-control objectives.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Social and Health Sciences