'No one has received any help': Foreign nationals flagged as most needy in Pretoria

21 May 2020 - 06:15 By Nonkululeko Njilo

Residents of Iterileng informal settlement, near Laudium, Pretoria, flocked to a local stadium as early as 3am on Wednesday in a bid to get their share of 11,000 food parcels distributed by local groups.

Some bought their own chairs and crates to sit on while they endured the snaking queues to the stalls.

Volunteers moved around the crowds to ensure compliance with regulations such as social distancing, which in some instances proved to be a challenge.

While many food parcel drives have been characterised by chaos in the past, volunteers ensured all those in the queues had their thumbs marked with ink to avoid repetition in collection.

One of the coordinators, social activist Yusuf Abramjee, said the queues stretched for some 3km. He said 11,000 parcels were distributed.

“The need for food was massive and people are desperate. We have a crisis. Half of the people in Iterileng are foreigners and no one has received any help from government,” he said.

Hundreds of people stand in line to collect food parcels at Iterileng informal settlement.
Hundreds of people stand in line to collect food parcels at Iterileng informal settlement.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/ Sunday Times

Abramjee said the distribution was a joint initiative between Meal SA, Operation SA, the South African National Zakah Fund (Sanzaf), Pepkor, the Tshwane Muslim community, Valtrans, Foodline, Advance Cash & Carry, KitKat and others.

The parcels contained maize meal, bread and other food, soap, sanitiser and face masks, among other items. 

"It all went well. We are happy to have made a difference to our neighbours in need,” said another coordinator, Shakeel Amod.

A woman rests on a crate as hundreds of people queue to collect food parcels in Iterileng, Pretoria.
A woman rests on a crate as hundreds of people queue to collect food parcels in Iterileng, Pretoria.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo, Sunday Times

Local activist Catherine Constantinides applauded the initiative, which she said was one of solidarity. “The power of civil society is felt at times such as these. We cannot discriminate when it comes to feeding our communities. Our people will die of hunger before they die of Covid-19 if we continue like this.” 

The group said similar food distribution drives would continue. This is following another food distribution initiave in Mooiplaas, where thousands of recipients also turned out in a queue that stretched for close to three kms and shocked SA through images and drone videos, said Asgar Akoob.

Residents of the informal settlement collect food parcels including maize meal and bread.
Residents of the informal settlement collect food parcels including maize meal and bread. 
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo/ Sunday Times

X