Belhar, Mfuleni councillors caught in feud over food parcels amid unrest

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Cape Town – Mfuleni and Belhar residents were up in arms as they demanded answers from their ward councillors about food parcels as unrest continued across the province yesterday.

Mfuleni residents attacked ward councillor Thembisile Bathembu, alleging he had given food parcels to friends while some deserving community members got nothing after a long wait yesterday at the Afrika Tikkun Centre where food was being distributed.

In Belhar, residents accused their ward councillor of being slow in delivering food parcels. Belhar ward councillor Willie Jaftha said applications for food parcels were being processed by Sassa.

“No residents were promised food parcels, all I did was to ask them to register their names, and of which I have submitted the list, and I am waiting for the date of food parcels delivery.

“They should have asked me about the progress of registrations of names, not to hold unnecessary protests. The protest itself is illegal and they know it very well.

“When it comes to the date of food parcels delivery, I am clueless, just like them, but they think I know everything,” added Jaftha.

Mfuleni resident Nosipho Mkoko said residents were realising what councillors were doing with the food parcels.

“We are sick and tired of being lied to and treated like people who don’t exist, but when they need numbers to become councillors they come to us. He does not answer what happened to the food parcels and why other people did not get parcels.

“People are dying of hunger and yet the councillor decides to play with people’s emotions and look down on their dignity,” said Mkoko.

Western Cape Sassa spokesperson Shivani Wahab called on communities to report councillors who used food parcels for political gain.

“Our call centres receive a large volume of calls on a daily basis for enquiries and Social Relief of Distress applications. Sassa has activated teams across the province who are working closely with communities to ensure that social relief of distress is provided.

“In some cases Sassa staff are going the extra mile to personally deliver food parcels to members of the public who reside in outlying areas.

“Should Sassa deem a venue to be unsafe for the food parcel to be handed out, we then alternatively collaborate with SAPS to hand out the food parcels at the nearest police station.

“Food parcels are a critical supply to those most vulnerable during this pandemic. Government calls on communities to report councillors should they be found in the wrong, amid reports of those who are looting food parcels for personal or political gain,” said Wahab.

Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez said the provincial government would continue with efforts to deliver the limited, once-off food parcels to those who met the criteria.

Meanwhile, Empolweni residents closed Baden Powell Drive, protesting over the demolition of their shacks.

Law Enforcement Inspector Wayne Dyason said protesters had dispersed into a nearby informal settlement.

Thabo Mbeki Informal Settlement residents also protested against a proposed change in demarcation from Ward 35 to Ward 36.

Cape Times

By Odwa Mkentane


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