'The need is massive,' say donors as 3km Centurion food queue shocks SA

30 April 2020 - 11:32 By Nonkululeko Njilo
Residents of Mooiplaas informal settlement outside Centurion gathered to collect food hampers. UK politician Peter Hain commented that the queue was 'outside the richest city in the richest country in Africa'.
Residents of Mooiplaas informal settlement outside Centurion gathered to collect food hampers. UK politician Peter Hain commented that the queue was 'outside the richest city in the richest country in Africa'.
Image: Provided

Residents of Mooiplaas and Spruit informal settlements in Centurion, north of Johannesburg, came out in numbers to collect food hampers on Wednesday, forming a queue 3km long.

While 8,000 food hampers were handed out, this is just a drop in the ocean, said social activist Yusuf Abramjee.

“The need for food is massive. More than 80% of this community are foreigners and they have not received any help from government. We are happy we made a small difference,” he said.

The initiative was made possible by the Tshwane Muslim Community and the Sutherland Ridge, Ikon Park and Westhills business communities.

Video footage of the queue caught the attention of Peter Hain, a British politician and former anti-apartheid activist, who raised the need for humanitarian aid.

“It shows this thing hasn’t even started, because if that video is outside the richest city in the richest country in Africa, just imagine what could be even now creeping up on the rest of the continent. And where is UK, EU, US aid? Nowhere!” he tweeted.

They perform one of SA's most important services - collecting recyclables that would otherwise swell the country's rubbish dumps and burden municipal trash collection - but the coronavirus lockdown has left thousands of waste pickers without any way to make a living. While municipal refuse removers were classified as essential workers, waste pickers were excluded from the list. Lockdown measures are expected to be relaxed slightly from May 1 2020, but the group still faces an uncertain future.

Asgar Akoob of the United Muslim Forum said more work needed to be done.

“The lockdown is far from over and hunger is growing by the day. Let’s continue to make a difference wherever we can,” he said.

Business leader Smiley Essa said while thousands of people were guaranteed to have a meal after the donations, more was required.

“We are looking at ways of expanding the aid over the coming days to neighbouring areas,” he said.

Residents of Mooiplaas informal settlement outside Centurion collect food hampers on Wednesday.
Residents of Mooiplaas informal settlement outside Centurion collect food hampers on Wednesday.
Image: Provided

The donors expressed gratitude to the Gauteng social development department, the city of Tshwane and law enforcers who approved the distribution, in line with a new directive that distribution should be co-ordinated and approved.

Scores of police, soldiers and metro police officers have been in attendance since the start of the distribution.

Smuggling between South Africa and Zimbabwe is rife in Musina, Limpopo. Zimbabweans, facing a dire food security situation, can no longer buy food in the town as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closure of the border to South Africa. Despite the erection of a R37 million fence, which was completed on April 20 2020, food is still regularly being smuggled into Zimbabwe.


X