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PHOTO ESSAY: Unrest in Cape Flats communities over food parcels

Police clash with Tafelsig residents who were protesting for the government parcels. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Police clash with Tafelsig residents who were protesting for the government parcels. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 15, 2020

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Cape Town - Several incidents of looting and rioting in areas such as Mitchells Plain and Manenberg and Gatesville took place on Tuesday allegedly as a result of growing frustration over promises of food parcels, coupled with a lack of food for poor residents to sustain themselves during the nationwide lockdown.

Several NGOs have called on the government to widen the net of those receiving social security grants so that more people can get an income to sustain themselves during the lockdown.

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About 1 000 Tafelsig residents took to the streets, burned tyres and hurled stones.

According to police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk, the stone-throwing started when police arrived on the scene.

He said according to reports, the Tafelsig East community were upset that 150 of their neighbours from Tafelsig West had been given food parcels by the councillor the previous day.

Tyres were burned and rocks were thrown at authorities and cars. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  
Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  
Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  
Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  
Police clash with Tafelsig residents who were protesting for the government parcels. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Ward councillor Washiela Harris said anger was also fuelled by food parcels distributed for the poor in the Eastern Cape.

“Apparently they are protesting due to the Eastern Cape receiving food parcels and they are not. My concern is they are putting all residents’ lives at risk by not abiding by the lockdown regulations. Destroying infrastructure is not the way to go,” said Harris.

Police arrested three men, aged 17, 18 and 20, for public violence and they are due in court soon.

The Covid-19 People’s Coalition has called for an increase in all social grants as well as the provision of a basic income grant to be given to unemployed individuals.

The group comprises of about 190 social movements, trade unions, civic bodies and NGOs.

They have made various proposals which they said would assist in mitigating the challenges brought forth by the lockdown.

Some of the proposals were that social grants be doubled and that a basic income grant be given to citizens aged 18 to 59 who do not qualify for social security grants.

“The proposed Basic Income Grant was a topic of debate before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the lockdown measures, the need for a basic income is more relevant than ever,” the group said.

“There are millions of people in informal work with no income or job security; many more millions are unemployed. As a result, more than half of South Africa’s population were already unable to afford food and other basic necessities. Going into lockdown without adequate income and food support will lead many of us to the brink of starvation.”

Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Police remove rubble and burning tyres as they were clashing with Tafelsig residents. Photographer Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
The community of Tafelsig protested after they heard a neighboring community received food parcels. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) 
Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  

Professor at UCT’sNelson Mandela School of Public Governance, Alan Hirsch, said additional aid to the poor was necessary.

“In the statement by Minister Tito Mboweni yesterday (Tuesday), he referred to the need to protect the vulnerable.

“The advantage of using the current social transfers administered by Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) is that the system is established and the mechanism of distribution is tested. However, not all vulnerable informal sector employers or employees will be reached this way.

“We don’t have an established mechanism to reach all. So the choice the government has to make is do we provide additional relief through the existing system, which is not perfect? Or do we develop a better channel for aid to the vulnerable poor, which may take more time?” said Hirsch.

According to Statistics SA, more than 17 million South Africans receive a social welfare grant.

Professor Thuli Madonsela, chairperson of Social Justice Research at Stellenbosch University, said money should only be given to those who were registered and verified as destitute because they lost employment or had their income disrupted by the restrictive coronavirus regulations.

“I support the idea that the state should assist those that cannot provide for themselves and their families. In that regard, I prefer financial transfers instead of food parcels,” Madonsela said.

Sassa said it would continue to assist those facing a loss of income or the ability to generate income through the Social Relief in Distress grant.

To apply for the grant, dial 0800601011 during office hours.

Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)  
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) 
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