Champions help feed community

Masjid Darussalaam Daycare and Madrassa, in Lost City, distributes up to 1 500 food parcels every month.

Community champions have stepped in to soften the blow of the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The lockdown has left many people without any source of income and there has been desperate calls for help from hungry communities.

Tafelsig Community Action Network (CAN) has 25 champions who are responsible for feeding up to 300 people, in their and neighbouring streets daily.

They are members of the umbrella body Cape Town Community Action Network (CAN), which was formed ahead of the lockdown to address food needs in local communities.

A video of Joanie Fredericks, co-ordinator of the Tafelsig CAN, went viral on social media last week as she called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to consult people on the ground on their needs and how best it could be addressed.

Within hours of the video being posted, Ms Fredericks received a call from a staff member in the president’s office to enquire how best to engage local leaders on food distribution.

The video came a day after Tafelsig residents took to the streets – burning tyres and stoning the police and other emergency services – because only certain people had received food parcels.

On Tuesday April 14, AZ Berman Drive and parts of Spine Road, in Tafelsig, were closed, barring entry and exit to the area.

Speaking to the Plainsman on Monday April 20, Ms Fredericks said there is a great need in the community and they have been forced to work together to help feed each other.

She said had the lockdown ended on Thursday April 16, the community could not have shown the government that they can work together and that they can take care of each other, without help from the government.

She acknowledged that Mayor Dan Plato on Thursday April 16 delivered bags of food, a gas cylinder and cooker top.

Ms Fredericks said she has had regular interactions with the president’s office, who have also referred various entities to Tafelsig CAN, including a visit from Cameron Dugmore, the ANC’s leader of the official opposition in the provincial legislature.

Springbok rugby team captain Siya Kolisi had also pledged his support in a Facebook post, thanking Tafelsig for reaching out.

“People are definitely hungry,”she said, adding that people who normally would not ask for a cent or a piece of bread, have now been forced to reach out.

Ms Fredericks said the strategy to get the public to call a central number was impractical.

“Most people don’t have a phone. We are calling on donors to contact us and we will ensure every person in Tafelsig is fed at least one warm meal a day,” she said.

She said with the various CANs across the city, citizens have shown that they can and will take care of each other.

Ms Fredericks said that they do not distribute food parcels because of the substance abuse situation in the area.

“They use the contents of the hamper to help feed their addiction,” she said.

Wolfgat sub-council chairman, Solomon Philander, thanked the community for rallying together in this time of need.

“We are mindful that a large percentage of the 1.6 million grant recipients in the Western Cape, lives in Mitchell’s Plain.”

He said the lockdown has restricted many households dependent on income from piecemeal work or even recycling goods.

“The individuals, families, religious and community organisations are acknowledged by the sub-council for their relief in the geographic area of the sub-council.

“In time of a disaster all ward councillors in the sub-council have activated networks to respond to the needs of the community.

“We have all received high volumes of requests for food relief,” he said.

The provincial Department of Social Development made an additional R35 million available to widen the existing nutrition safety net.

As part of this, 50 000 food parcels will be provided once-off to support a family of four for one month during the lockdown and is based on set criteria. This ensures that this limited number of parcels reach the most vulnerable people.

The qualifying criteria includes: households affected by Covid-19 infections in the following instances – a member/s of the family tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine in their homes; a household where a member of the family who tested positive for the virus and who has insufficient means to sustain themselves during the lockdown period; a person who is on medication or who suffers from a chronic illness and has insufficient means to sustain themselves and was assessed and referred by a local clinic or registered health practitioner; and a person and their household who have insufficient means to sustain themselves during the lockdown period who were referred by a registered humanitarian relief agency, registered non-profit organisation or a municipal manager, and assessed by the department.

In this instance, people who have not yet received SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) grants, including the elderly, child-headed houses, and grant awaiting beneficiaries will be prioritised.

Residents can call 080 022 0250 for Department of Social Development general queries; 086 014 2142 for donation requests and offers between 7am and 4pm; or send a Please Call Me to 079 769 1207, or email covid19donate@westerncape.gov.za