NEWS & ANALYSIS

DA NCape condemns unregulated distribution of food parcels

DSD must make sure beneficiaries comply with lockdown regulations like wearing a mask and social distancing

DA condemns unregulated distribution of food parcels

21 May 2020

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English & Afrikaans  from Christopher Phiri, Cllr. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape denounces the unregulated and reckless manner in which food parcels were distributed in Diamond Park, Kimberley, yesterday and we are calling on the Department of Social Development to urgently investigate the matter and institute measures in order to prevent similar repeat scenarios.

This comes after crowds of hungry residents made their way to the stadium in Greenpoint to collect food hampers. The majority of the beneficiaries, however, were not wearing masks and were not adhering to social distancing regulations. The streets looked more like it was the middle of the festive season as opposed to us being in the midst of the Coronanvirus pandemic. See video clips here and here.

In effect, the more cautious and law-abiding residents, who are also in need of food parcels, stayed away from the stadium for fear of contracting the virus. This has created anxiety amongst these residents, especially the sick and elderly who are also in desperate need of food hampers, as they do not know whether they will get another opportunity to collect a hamper.

The haphazard manner in which the food parcels was distributed is unacceptable and highly irresponsible. You cannot have a situation whereby government is telling the public to adhere to strict lockdown regulations but then a government department facilitates a process that blatantly contravenes all safety regulations.

If just one person at yesterday’s food distribution happened to be positive for Covid-19, this could spell a looming disaster for the impoverished Diamond Park community and the greater Kimberley area.

The DA appeals to MEC Martha Bartlett to ensure that, in future, all social relief programmes need to be conducted in a regulated manner that ensures adherence to Covid-19 safety regulations. While the need for social relief is great, and unnecessary administrative processes must not delay the distribution of food, the department also needs to have a sensible distribution plan in place. If the department is unable to distribute food parcels door to door then, at the very least, they need to ensure that the beneficiaries all have masks and that social distancing is observed.

We cannot allow social relief programmes, that are in effect meant to save people’s lives, threatening their lives by starting Covid-19 bushfires all across the province. This will rapidly increase the spread of the virus and could culminate in an unprecedented disaster, for the which Northern Cape is ill prepared.

Issued by Christopher PhiriDA Caucus Leader, Sol Plaatje Municipality, 21 May 2020