More and more people are gatecrashing social events just to get a plate of food, as economic conditions in SA worsen.

KwaMashu - More and more people are gatecrashing funerals, weddings and other social events, mainly in townships, just to get a plate of food.

It was becoming harder to attract people to an event without the promise of a plate of food, said National Consumer Forum chairman Thami Bolani.

These days it was a prerequisite that meals were supplied at public meetings organised by the government and the private sector, he added. In some cases, people even asked for a transport stipend to be included, otherwise they were not interested in attending.

“No catering, no people… people only come when meals are going to be served,” Bolani said.

He said that while the price of food was not as high as it was two to three years ago, prices were still increasing and were “quite high”.

This meant that most families were forced to cut back on groceries, because “wages are not keeping up with the cost of living”.

As a result, those people who fell into the LSM categories 1-5/6 were struggling to buy food that was required daily, such as fruit, vegetables and chicken.

“People are no longer eating healthy or nutritious foods because they can’t afford to buy veggies and fruits, so they are relying on mealie meal and meat, “which is inadequate”.

“That’s why there are high levels of malnutrition among young people,” he said.

KwaMashu-based events planner Ntombenhle Shezi, of Ntombenhle Catering and Decor, said there was definitely an increase in uninvited guests at events, and this had a huge effect on planning budgets.

“Organising township weddings is difficult, as there is no ‘entrance by invitation only’ policy. Everyone pitches up. Even passers-by see a tent, decide to make a stop and demand a plate of food.”

Pro-Cords events planner Thami Zondi said: “We try to accommodate a client’s budget, but sometimes that is difficult, as we don’t know the numbers we are cooking for.”

Some price increases:

l Canned tuna 17.4 percent

l Whole fresh chicken 10.1 percent

l Stewing beef 7.8 percent

l Special maize meal 56 percent

l Super maize meal 34.6 percent

l Brown bread 12.7 percent

l White bread 11.7 percent

l Rice 8.6 percent

l Cabbage 34.9 percent

l Tomatoes 19.7 percent

l Milk 11.9 percent

l Eggs 4.5 percent

l Margarine 10 percent

l Peanut butter 25.5 percent

l Butter beans canned 9.9 percent

l Coffee 15 percent

l Ceylon/black tea 6.4 percent

As the cost of living continued to rise an increasing number of South Africans were taking out unsecured loans in an attempt to make ends meet, said Rajeen Devpruth, statistics manager at the National Credit Regulator.

“It is just about survival,” he added explaining that between October and November 2011, South Africans took out unsecured or non-mortgage loans totalling R26bn.

The top uses for the money were for consumption purposes like food, building supplies and to consolidate loans, said Devpruth.

While it was easier to get an unsecured loan, the maximum interest rate could be as high as 32 percent. – The Mercury