Lockdown: Pressing need for food parcels in Durban amid Covid-19 outbreak

2020-05-11 19:31
People in Blackburn Village, along the N2 freeway in Durban, say they do not have enough food. ( Nokulunga Majola, GroundUp)

People in Blackburn Village, along the N2 freeway in Durban, say they do not have enough food. ( Nokulunga Majola, GroundUp)

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Residents of Blackburn Village, next to the N2 freeway in Durban, say they live in fear of starvation. They say there are not enough food parcels for the over 2 000 households in the informal settlement.

Some say they applied to Sassa for food parcel relief but have yet to receive any.

READ | Sassa to launch new Covid-19 relief grant application process

Most residents in the area work in construction and have been unemployed since the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented in March.

For the past two years, Lamile Moyikwa managed to survive through piece jobs. The father of three is now asking his family back in the Eastern Cape for help.

"I am the one who is supposed to be supporting my family but instead they are supporting me. The food hamper that I received about two weeks ago has now run out," he said.

"We cannot live like this – waiting for people to come to our aid with food parcels… If the situation doesn't change, people will die of hunger before this lockdown is over."

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Ward 35 councillor Nicole Bollman (DA) told GroundUp: "I am working with different organisations to organise food hampers, but the reality is it is still insufficient. I understand there is a massive need for food and I am doing the best that I can."

She said that child-headed households, people with disabilities and people on medication and the elderly, were being prioritised.

"We need to start home gardens to also help us sustain ourselves," said Bollman.

Food parcels are a temporary provision

Since the lockdown began, food parcels have been distributed twice. Last week, volunteers from nearby Izinga distributed about 3 000 hampers in the informal settlement. Each hamper included maize meal, rice, tinned fish, baked beans, soap, tea bags and various essential items.

The food hampers were mostly donated by residents, local organisations and businesses.

Sassa KwaZulu-Natal's director of communications Sandy Godlwana said food parcels are a temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such dire need that they are unable to meet their most basic needs.

The food hamper contains 10kg maize meal, 10kg flour, 5kg samp, 2kg soya mince, 2 litres cooking oil, 400ml peanut butter, instant yeast, washing powder, a bar of soap, toothpaste, bleach and a ten-pack of toilet paper.

eThekwini Municipality Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda launched a R66 million relief programme on 1 May. Working with councillors, the City has identified 1 000 indigent households to receive food hampers and vouchers worth R600.

The municipality's acting head of communications Mandla Nsele has urged all involved in the programme to resist any temptation to do favours for their relatives and friends but rather to treat all residents equally.

"Any officials and councillors found to have acted unethically, will be dealt with," Nsele said.

Read more on:    durban  |  lockdown  |  coronavirus

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