Theft, protests and looting

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Communities face food crisis under lockdown.


By Seth Meyer

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 4 of VARSITY News.


On April 17th, residents of Scotsdene, Kraaifontein staged a peaceful demonstration in protest of food shortages impacting their community under the restrictions of the national lockdown.  Protests regarding food shortages have occurred throughout several communities in South Africa suffering under the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and struggling to gain access to adequate food, as looting and incidents of alleged corruption affect feeding schemes.


The South African Police Service (SAPS) have responded to several incidents of unrest in the time since the national lockdown began. On April 21st, the R300 road was barricaded with rocks and burning tyres. Passing trucks caught up in the chaos were pelted with stones. Across Cape Town, including communities such as Delft and Elsies River, incidents of looting and violence have occurred. Several local shops have been broken into and pillaged, with police arresting several individuals who are subsequently facing various charges, such as public violence, theft, robbery with aggravating circumstances and contravening Disaster Management Act regulations. Most concerningly for these communities, is the rampant looting of food trucks, some of which are part of the relief effort that many depend on. In the community of Bishop Lavis, four arrests were initially made following the pillaging of four food trucks. Two truck drivers were injured in one such incident of looting.


The issues of theft and looting are not the only factor in the food crisis that many South African citizens are facing. Allegations of corruption in food parcel delivery have sprung up across the nation, with the government and police purportedly investigating claims of ward councillors stealing food parcels for themselves. Several ward councillors have been accused of hoarding food for themselves and their families, or delivering the much-needed relief only to their constituencies, excluding people based on party affiliation and, as the Democratic Alliance (DA) alleges in one incident, excluding people based on race.


One African National Congress (ANC) Ward Councillor Thembisile Hani, was found on the side of the road loading food parcels into his own bakkie, with pictures circulating on Twitter.


The severe food shortage that many South African citizens are now facing is only exacerbated by the issues of theft and corruption. One Mitchells Plain resident, in a plea to the president is quoted as saying, “Mr President, we are in the middle of a food crisis. It’s war out here.”


South Africa is now under Level 4 lockdown, with no discernible end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic and social impact.


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