Gas tanks stolen from Meals on Wheels service centre

A volunteer at Meals on Wheels, Mark Giebelaar, standing at the container the cooking items were stolen from. The items stolen were three 19kg gas tanks.

The team of Meals on Wheels Community Service, a non-profit organisation, shouldered on and continued to feed the community after their gas tanks were stolen in Portland.

Meals on Wheels Mitchell’s Plain Service Centre in Portland feeds over 37 000 people across Mitchell’s Plain every day.

A volunteer at Meals on Wheels, Mark Giebelaar, told the Plainsman on Friday August 13, the items may have been stolen in the evening when no one was around. There were no food to hand out and they could not feed the community as they usually do, he said.

“It was sad as people were looking forward to the food handouts. People are still scared during this time but we’re doing our best to feed the masses under these circumstances,” he said.

Secretary for Meals on Wheels Community Service, Desireé Visagie, said when she heard of the stolen gas tanks, she was shocked. “I felt heartsore and total disappointment, this could have been somebody we know, it could be anyone we may have come in contact with during our community service,” she said.

Mitchell’s Plain SAPS confirmed that a case of theft was registered after three 19kg gas tanks were stolen from the premises of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, on the corner of Liesbeeck Way and Vaal Rivier Road, Portland, which the service centre shares with the church. The items are believed to have been stolen between Thursday August 5 and Tuesday August 10.

Meals on Wheels feeds on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in areas such as Heinz Park, Tafelsig, Beacon Valley, Lentegeur, Portland, New Woodlands, schools and shelters, to name a few.

Ms Visagie said on Wednesdays they would go to Tafelsig clinic and 7de Laan informal settlement in Strandfontein and a few rural areas.

On Tuesday August 10, they were unable to cook because of the stolen gas tanks and cables.

“We did, however, manage to hand out cereal in some areas, just to be able to do something – thinking of the many hungry souls out there,” said Ms Visagie.

By Thursday August 12 they were operating as normal and “we praise God because it could have been worse,” Ms Visagie said.

“Our appeal to the community is to please be on the lookout for any suspicious criminal activity such as the selling of the missing items and not to buy from them. We are doing a job, not to be seen but to help feed the very vulnerable seniors and children in our community,” said Ms Visagie.

Solomon Philander, the chairperson of the Wolfgat Sub-council (Sub-council 12), said non-profit organisations like Meals on Wheels provide an invaluable service in the community.

“It is sad to hear that thugs targets our NPO sector who provide much-needed services with donations from the public and subsidies. Meals on Wheels is one of the organisations that feeds across the metro and specifically in Mitchell’s Plain,” he said.

“The organisation plays a very important role during the Covid-19 pandemic where many of our community members suffered due to loss of employment and in other cases children who depended on a meal a day at school must now survive with a meal on alternate days and this is where the organisation fill the gap to feed children,” he said.

“I want to appeal to the community not to buy from the door. The seller is able to give you a bargain by the door – we all know the implication of stolen goods. If you have lately purchased a 19kg gas tank by the door, please remember you are part of the problem as many children and families went without food after the gas tanks were stolen. If the buyer(s) can have it in their hearts to return the tanks to the community to allow them to continue to feed the community, please do so,” appealed Mr Philander.

Mitchell’s Plain SAPS spokesman, Captain Ian Williams told the Plainsman no one has been arrested yet. If you have information, call the SAPS Crime Stop number on 08600 10111.

If you want to donate to the Meals on Wheels Mitchell’s Plain Service Centre, contact the centre at 021 371 8956 or SMS “Meal” to 39055 for more information.