Covid-19 lockdown: 'Politicians handing out food parcels is not helping crisis'
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Cape Town - Reports of the looting of food parcels by some ANC councillors across the country, the selling of food parcels in Mitchells Plain and the looting of food delivery trucks in Bonteheuwel and elsewhere are bedevilling the good intentions of thousands of NGOs and volunteers as well as the government.
In his weekly newsletter on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised harsh action against those found guilty of hoarding the food parcels and reselling them.
“We have also had to contend with disturbing and disgusting allegations. A number of provinces have received reports that callous individuals, some allegedly government officials, are hoarding or selling food parcels earmarked for the needy and destitute, or diverting them to their friends and families. If there is found to be substance to these allegations we will deal with the individuals concerned harshly,” he said.
Mitchells Plain Integrated Development Forum secretary Dwayne Jacobs said he received reports that some residents were selling their food parcels. Jacobs, who distributes the parcels from a privately owned company, said this was as a result of more than one food parcel being received in a single household.
“We are in the process of planning to book them once they receive such food parcels. They will now have to carry their IDs and then sign so that we can give one food parcel per household,” he said.
On top of that, Jacobs said, there were individuals who were playing party politics, where only selected party members received food parcels. Jacobs said this was not only unfair and illegal but constituted corruption.
“Councillors and politicians are coming out to give food parcels to particular party members. We have noted that and we will go out to see how we can address it,” he said.
Ward councillor Solomon Philander confirmed that these were not government food parcels but from a private donor.
“Food parcels have not been distributed by Sassa or the social development department, we are still awaiting as they are still processing,” he said.
Two men and two women aged
24 to 30 were arrested in Netreg near Bonteheuwel on Monday for public violence and possession of stolen property.
This was after a group of residents stoned a delivery truck on Robert Sobukwe Road, near Bonteheuwel and the N2, on Monday morning and later looted it. A driver aged 46 and an assistant, 32, sustained injuries.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said a case of malicious damage to property was opened.
A Checkers delivery truck was also looted in the afternoon at the same spot, a few hours before another truck was also looted.
The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign said according to the assessments and reports received from grassroots communities, the government response to food needs was inadequate.
“The Solidarity Fund has centralised resourcing and three weeks into the lockdown it has not been able to effectively ensure food supply through food parcels."
According to the campaign, the food crisis was going to persist as long as the country was still locked down.
“The Solidarity Fund is far from blunting the edge of desperation and hunger. Politicians handing out food parcels is not helping and it politicises the crisis,” it said
The campaign demanded that the government unlock the food commons - community gardens, small-scale farmers, community feeding schemes and subsistence fishers.