Beneficiaries need to fork out R50 to get food parcels because the local Madibeng municipality won’t help a non-governmental organisation in Brits, North West, to transport the parcels from Rustenburg.
Although the feeding scheme by Halaletsang Women Empowerment has been operating since last year, it has seen an increase in the demand for food parcels as word spread in Block B of Letlhabile township – “driven by ANC people” – that the goods were part of government’s Covid-19 coronavirus relief programme.
Halaletsang said it needed to ask for money to cover the cost of collecting the goods from Rustenburg because the local Madibeng municipality declined to assist with the means for transport because it does not have a budget for this.
Chairperson of Halaletsang, Merriam Gumbi, said she was getting the food from a private company and she had to collect it.
Gumbi said she had approached the government at the district department of social development to assist with transport for the collection of the goods but she was told there was “no budget”.
Social development referred her to the municipality and, according to what a local councillor told her, the mayor asked her for a quotation.
“Till today, they have not given us feedback. I have sent the mayor several messages and she has not responded,” Gumbi said.
A district director for social development was asked to seek intervention from the municipality last year but the efforts flopped.
Gumbi said the R50 fee also covered administrative costs like stationery, internet and printing.
“I do not work. I’m 60 years old. So that is the only way I could make the feeding scheme work.”
Gumbi said she had a list of 500 beneficiaries.
She said a truck she had hired to collect the parcels in Rustenburg was impounded by the police in the Mooinooi area for being overloaded.
Halaletsang paid R5000 to get the truck released, she said.
“But now the ANC people were here the other day claiming that the food belongs to government and it is not true. I raised this food from the private sector.”
She said she also had a list of orphans across five schools in Letlhabile who were also getting food from her organisation “without paying anything”.
Madibeng mayor Jostine Mothibe said government had its own food parcel programme in collaboration with the social security agency, which had its own qualifying criteria for beneficiaries.
“We have a lot of non-governmental organisations in the area and we do not provide them with any transport services. We do not even have a budget for transportation support for them.”
Mothibe said that in terms of government functions these organisations were supported by the department of social development.
The municipality only played a facilitating role, she said.
She said it was unheard of for beneficiaries to be charged a fee to access food parcels.
“Government would not approve of such a process because the beneficiaries of food parcels would ordinarily not afford that money. It is like they are selling the food parcels,” she said.
She said Halaletsang should approach the social development department for assistance from the joint operation committee set up to represent all the departments during the Covid-19 period.
Mothibe suggested that the organisation reprioritise its budget so that transport costs were covered.
“If you are supplying to 1 000 people then maybe cut the number down to 800 and then use the remainder of the budget for transport costs,” she said.
Tshepiso Kwakwa, also a member of Halaletsang, said there had been no input from the municipality in their initiative except for the district education department that helped to transport food parcels for the orphans.
“Our partners can only sponsor food but they would not sponsor us with money. We need resources like cars and trucks to get the food because they do not deliver. The only solution is to ask for an administration fee,” Tshepiso said, adding that he was currently handling 800 forms that needed to be scanned.
He said they also had 26 volunteers who package the food.
“We give them breakfast and lunch because they work hard. Some even help to load the parcels on the trucks when we are collecting.”