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Gauteng indigents dealt a blow as Covid-19 shuts food distribution centre

By Tebogo Monama and Turkmen Terzi Time of article published Jun 23, 2020

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Indigents in Gauteng have been dealt a blow after the municipal-run Food Bank was closed because of a Covid-19 infection.

The City of Joburg’s health and social development department has temporarily closed it after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19.

The facility, based at the Joburg Market in City Deep, distributes about 40 000 vegetable packs a month. The Food Bank receives donations from agents who pass on excess food not sold in the normal course of business. This month alone, the Food Bank still has about 19 000 outstanding fresh food packs to distribute.

The City of Joburg’s mayoral committee member (MMC) for health and social development, Eunice Mgcina, said all health protocols were being followed.

“All contacts are self-isolating. And the Food Bank will be disinfected. We anticipate that the facility will re-open on 1 July,” Mgcina said.

She said she was aware of the adverse effects the closure of the Food Bank would have on the poor. “We are alive to the impact this will have on the vegetable distribution process.

“I want to make an impassioned plea to local leaders, faith-based organisations and NGOs to assist those people who might be in dire need because of the maket’s closure,” said Mgcina.

Meanwhile, thousands of migrants and South African citizens have benefited from an ambitious project run by immigrant business people and organisations.

To mark World Refugee Day this past Saturday, Joburg-based Universal Rights Association (URA) held a webinar titled "Contributions of Refugees and Migrants to South Africa".

Representatives from the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) and Islamic Circle of Southern Africa, who participated in the URA event, said they had been lending a hand since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ADF chairperson Dr Abdul Elgoni said their work was more about human rights before the coronavirus pandemic. But since the lockdown started, the focus had been shifted to food parcels.

Elgoni said that foreign-owned spaza shops, members and other organisations such as Africa Works and Islamic Relief had provided tons of food items.

They did not differentiate between migrants and non-migrants when delivering food hampers, he said.

“Covid-19 shows there is no difference between foreigners and South Africans. Tens of thousands of vulnerable people received our help during this pandemic,” Dr Elgoni said.

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