Looting incidents on the increase

Tafelsig CAN (Community Action Network) co-ordinator, Joanie Fredericks and her team feed over 300 people weekly from allocated spots in Tafelsig.

Public violence, looting, and protests had local police busy in the past week, with an attempted hijacking of a food truck on the R300 and an attempted theft at Watergate Mall.

On Wednesday April 22, in Samora Machel, Philippi East police prevented a group from looting a delivery truck after barricades were placed on the road at about 10.30am.

Suspects were dispersed by police and they ran into nearby Heinz Park, said SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Novela Potelwa.

A move by the group to head towards the nearby Watergate Mall was also prevented. SAPS’ Public Order Police, officers from Philippi East and Samora Machel police stations and the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement officers responded to the incidents.

Four suspects were arrested for public violence, Brigadier Potelwa said.

On Tuesday April 14, Tafelsig residents took to the streets – burning tyres and stoning the police and other emergency services on AZ Berman Drive and parts of Spine Road – barring entry and exit to the area because of dissatisfaction that only certain people had received food parcels (“Champions help feed community”, Plainsman, April 22).

JP Smith, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the chaotic protest along the R300 earlier this week was the most recent incident. In the past two weeks, he added, there had been a worrying increase in the looting of alcohol retailers, and more recently, the looting of food retailers and trucks transporting food items.

While the focus of lockdown interventions was initially on ensuring that persons remained confined to their homes, the focus had shifted in recent weeks.

“We have noted an increase in the number of persons arrested for selling items prohibited in terms of the regulations – most notably alcohol and cigarettes. Since the lockdown began, our law enforcement department has made 1 326 arrests for contraventions of the Disaster Act,” he said.

Community leader and Tafelsig Community Action Network (CAN) co-ordinator, Joanie Fredericks, said people were hungry.

“This is a time where criminal elements are active. It is impossible to assume every person will be fed or has a meal to eat. There are still people without wages, who did not get paid, some unemployed without pay – those people need to be helped as soon as possible,” she said.

Ms Fredericks said they did not condone looting, and that things had calmed down in her community.

Thirty people from Tafelsig CAN have fed more than 300 people in their community in the past month.

“We may not be able to hand out three meals a day but we make sure the seniors and children are fed especially,” she said.

Their priority is seniors, then children, women, and men.

“We try to make the feeding as quick as possible – we don’t want people standing in the line too long, some may be shy, or some may not be able to stand that long,” said Ms Fredericks.

She said she started with one bread, and encouraged other community leaders not to be despondent but to do something with the little they may have.

“Our feeding system is reliable and can be practised in other communities too.”

After a video, in which Ms Fredericks warned President Cyril Ramaphosa that the country’s poor were facing a food crisis, went viral on social media, the Kolisi Foundation, founded by Springbok rugby captain Siya Kolisi and his wife Rachel, reached out to Ms Fredericks.

On Thursday April 23, with the help of Food Lover’s Market, the Kolisi Foundation delivered a two-month supply of meat, non-perishable items, starch and fresh fruit and vegetables to Ms Fredericks.

“Hopefully, whatever we do right now, is to be able to look after people, I hope this carries on. It doesn’t stop. We’ll make sure,” pledged the 2019 Rugby World Cup-winning captain.

“A lot of people were hungry before the Covid-19 pandemic even started. Ladies such as Ms Fredericks and her team are true frontline heroes, helping their communities long before the rest of us noticed,” said Rachel Kolisi.

Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for urban management, said the City was committed to working with national and provincial governments to ensure that residents have food on their tables.

In actioning the City’s commitment, councillors are playing their part and making sure they can contribute and support their different communities.

Sub-councils have revisited the ward allocation budgets looking for savings and projects affected by the lockdown, which might not be completed by June 2020, so that these allocated monies can be reprioritised and redirected to the mayoral fund for food security for vulnerable residents.

The City’s food relief programme will be rolled out through all 24 sub-councils and recognised non-governmental organisations as soon as the budget reprioritisation is completed. More information will be made available once the details have been finalised.

If you would like to donate food or baby clothes for Baby CAN, through which baby clothes and essentials are collected as winter approaches, contact Ms Fredericks on 076 621 0245 or email joanie.fredericks@gmail.com