Desperate Eastern Cape residents are resorting to eating grass to survive

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Children from uMasizakhe in Graaff-Reinet line up for soup and food parcels from aid organisation Gift of the Givers. (Photo: Misha Jordaan)
Children from uMasizakhe in Graaff-Reinet line up for soup and food parcels from aid organisation Gift of the Givers. (Photo: Misha Jordaan)

The stories are gut-wrenching. People driven to the brink of such despair by hunger that they’re eating anything from grass and shrubs to tortoises to fill their bellies. A family contracting rabies after eating a stray dog. The cries of the desperate coming through day after day: please, help us. We have nothing. We’re starving.

Residents of the Eastern Cape – South Africa’s poorest province, which includes areas as diverse as the arid plains of the Great Karoo and the lush beauty of the Wild Coast – had already been brought to their knees by a crippling 10-year drought.

Then the pandemic arrived and lockdown stripped away the last vestiges of hope, leaving nothing but misery and desolation.

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