Joseph Maposa, a representative of Zimbabwean community staying in the Makhado Municipality, says that they have now resorted to begging for food because they fear dying of hunger.
“We are so many [Zimbabweans] here and most of us were surviving through part-time jobs such as being house maids, selling various items on the streets, running saloons and barber shops, and construction work but due to the lockdown, which we also support, everything has stopped and most of us have run out of food,” says Maposa.
Out on the street
Maposa says that some Zimbabweans are currently homeless because they can’t afford to pay rent. “We fully support the lockdown measures but some of us are now homeless for being unable to pay the required rent, which is very worrisome as it will be difficult to practise proper hygiene without a decent place to stay,” he says.
The National Department of Health and various organisations encourages people to practise proper hygiene by washing hands regularly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds to help minimise the spread of Covid-19.
No food parcels
While some Zimbabweans in Makhado are in the country legally and others illegally, Maposa says that they have been told that they don’t qualify for food parcels because they are not South Africans.
“We have been trying to get help from the government but we have been told that we do not qualify as the food parcels are only being offered to South Africans citizens only. We are facing a very tough situation as among us are young children, disabled, and women and it is now impossible for us to go home and to stay here is also difficult without food,” he says.
“We have been trying to compile a list of all Zimbabweans staying around Makhado Municipality who are currently without food. Our only hope now is to find good samaritans who can donate food to us as there is nothing more which we can do at the moment,” he adds.
On Tuesday President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that in the coming next two weeks more than 250 000 food parcels will be distributed across the country in the form of vouchers and cash transfers.
Bertha Chiguvare, the director of Vumbanani for Peacebuilding (VFP), a non-profit organisation (NPO) advocating for human rights and social cohesion in South Africa, says they have been receiving numerous pleas of help from stranded Zimbabweans in Makhado since the start of the lockdown.
“[In] the past two weeks, we have been receiving calls for help from the community members in Louis Trichardt in need of food. We have tried to contact the local councillor and the department of social development who have advised that there is no food as their support is limited to South Africans only.”
Various attempts to get comment from the provincial spokesperson of social development failed. – Health-e News
For more information on Covid-19 in South Africa, you can call the toll-free line on 0800 029 999, or you can send a message that says “Hi” on WhatsApp to the number 060 012 3456. You can also visit the SA Coronavirus website.