Knives drawn as Mayville community questions unfair food parcel distribution
Residents have made allegations of corruption in the distribution of food aid, and a local official said he was not involved.
According to one of the residents, a few food parcels were delivered on Tuesday and the rest left in the delivery van. When the community questioned the area committee members, knives were allegedly produced. A committee member claimed he was not afraid to go to jail and that no one would touch his van.
The resident said they had planned a community meeting on Monday but the councillor did not attend, and instead sent the police. In turn, the community called the eThekwini speaker’s office to report the matter.
“Food parcels are being distributed at 3am or they are sold during the day and each house must pay R50 for a food parcel. People were documented at night. The food voucher is for R574. It is written where you have to shop but you can’t go buy (it) for yourself. They will buy the food for you and give you the food. You will not be handed the voucher,” she claimed.
“What angered the community the most was that the vouchers came from the government and were for the people,” the resident said.
Meanwhile, she and many others were still waiting for parcels or vouchers.
“Since the start of the lockdown, I have not received any form of food assistance. The people who receive these (parcels and vouchers) are people who do work. It’s their friends, people with tenders. Those who are hungry and sick do not get help,” she said.
She had also contacted the municipality’s acting city manager and the chief whip to convey their concerns, and the residents had lodged a formal complaint with the city on Tuesday.
Ward councillor Mveli Mthembu said a service provider gets the job from the municipality to distribute food parcels, and as councillors they were not involved.
“It is the service providers who say how they will do their job. The area committees in the community identify people who need assistance; councillors do not identify anyone.
“It has been said that committee members write down their friends’ names to benefit,” said Mthembu.
He said the message from the speaker’s office was that people who were poor, unemployed and had no assistance were supposed to benefit from food parcels and vouchers.
Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said they worked on the basis that people who receive a social grant, are unemployed, part of child-headed households, people who get food from the soup kitchen and military veterans would receive food parcels.
Mntungwa said residents needed to check if they meet the criteria.
“It would be unfair to accuse the councillor, yet we might be talking about people who do not fit the criteria. The municipality identified 1000 people per ward. We understand that 1000 is too small in a ward; some have 50000 or more (households).
“However, if there are allegations the councillor is working negligently, they should contact the office of the speaker and lodge a formal complaint,” said Mntungwa.