We are afraid of dying from hunger, says Gauteng grandmother

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A grandmother who suffers from arthritis and high blood pressure and is forced to fetch water from a community Jojo tank has pleaded with the government to provide her with food parcels and water as she has been starving since the Covid-19 lockdown was extended. 

Angelina Kadi, from Kokotela informal settlement in extension 10 Lawley, in the south of Joburg, said she has been unsuccessful in her attempts to secure government distributed food parcels for almost two weeks. She said she felt forgotten by those in power during the most difficult period.

“I stay with my two grandsons here and the situation is very bad because of hunger. We don’t have water and we don’t have food. They have forgotten us (the government). Maybe it is because we live in shacks which are not important,” bemoaned Kadi. 

When The Sunday Independent visited the illegal informal settlement that made news when the Red Ants demolished illegal structures last Tuesday during lunchtime, Kadi was dishing plain rice for her young grandsons. She said this was their first and last meal of the day.

“We have been trying to send SMSes to the (Sassa) number for food parcels but they don’t go through. I even asked my daughter to assist by sending an email but she also said her mails and calls could not go through the number,” said Kadi.

“We also heard that people were registering at an EFF (local branch) office to receive food parcels, but it’s been two weeks now and we have not received anything. 

Angelina Kadi’s arthritis is so severe she is forced to use a walking stick and relies on the goodwill of her neighbours to bring her water from a tanker. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

“My neighbour who stays in town called to ask if we received any food parcels, and said in town (Denver area) they got theirs on Easter Monday,” said the 64-year-old. 

“Now our communal taps have been dry for the past five days and we don’t how long are we going to be without water for. Where the water has been provided in Jojo tanks is always full of people (waiting for water). 

“People wait for water from as early as 5amand now it’s after 1pm and there are still crowds waiting for the water truck to arrive. 

“I fear that the coronanivirus can spread easily in such a place because we are told we must observe social distancing, but that is not possible when everyone is crowding to get water,” she said. 

“Even if the truck arrives, by the time we go there there will be no water left. Our buckets are empty, so we don’t know how we are going to protect ourselves from corona (virus). How are we going to wash our hands?” 

“Our communal taps have been dry for the past five days and we don’t how long are we going to be without water for,” says Angelina Kadi. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Kadi said the other challenges there were facing at the moment were the unlawful evictions by the Joburg council, which had unleashed the Red Ants security company that has destroyed properties around the Lawley area.

“We fear three main things before the coronavirus. We are afraid of dying from hunger, of not getting water and fear of being evicted from our homes. 

“We are treated really badly, being evicted even though we were told to stay at home,” said Kadi, adding her arthritis is so severe she is forced to use a walking stick and relies on the goodwill of her neighbours who sometimes bring her water from the tanker. 

Asked how she felt about the amount added to social grants announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Kadi said the extra money will go a long way to alleviate hunger.

“I don’t have a TV or a radio, I heard about it (additional grant) when people were talking about it. As people we should be appreciative of what we are given,” said Kadi.

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