DURBAN - It was eerily silent when I woke up today. The usual crack of gunfire and the distant wails of hysterical looters had finally fallen silent five days after what seemed like I was living in a scene from The Walking Dead.
A column of black smoke that billowed westward from my home from a truck depot that had been razed to the ground by rioters on Spine Road yesterday was a reminder that things were not yet normal in our beautiful city.
The horror images of wanton looting and a city in turmoil that had flooded social media and rocked me to the core had also waned today.
My timeline had begun showing more images of people taking back their looted city by cleaning up the debris left behind.
It was heartening to see people going to their looted malls to help clean up.
Another joy for us was that bread had returned.
People formed long lines from early this morning at the bakery and were buying crates of bread that were shared among relatives and those in desperate need in the community.
Those not fortunate enough to buy bread by the crate directly from the bakery - which doesn’t sell it in loaves - are being charged up to R40 for a loaf of brown bread.
In addition to the queues for bread, there were long lines at supermarkets and petrol stations.
We are queuing for up to five hours to buy a single basket of food essentials.
Some stores are limiting the number of items people can buy and are insisting on card transactions only.
People who were desperately looking to stock up their food supplies at malls that were not looted were being turned away at civilian-manned barricades because “they are not from the area”.
A friend of mine told me that he was asked to produce “proof of address” at one such barricade.
“They are basically saying that their community had protected their malls and therefore only their community can shop at them,” he said.
Those who can find goods are buying what ever they can get their hands on, fearing that food supplies will soon run out.
“When my stock is finished, that is it,” said the spaza shop owner where I went today to try to stock up on essentials.
“Buy whatever you can. I don’t know when I will have stock again,” he advised.
A few people in front of me were heeding his advice.
Seeing politicians such as Premier Sihle Zikalala, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda on the ground interacting with residents and watching police arrest some of the looters have given me a glimmer of hope that the chaos is nearing its end.
However, fires still rage and communities are still barricading themselves in.
Tonight, I will join my community at a barricade for my two-hour shift, because five days after the chaos erupted, we still can’t trust the police to keep us safe.