South Africa: I Would Rather Have Something to Eat Than Worry About Being Embarrassed - Pensioner

Protests in Khayelitsha over the demolition of shacks

Johan Klaase clutches two foam containers of cooked food in one hand while holding his little grandchild's hand with the other.

"No, boeta, don't be wild," he warns the boy who is impatient to tuck into the rice dish they had just received. "What will we eat if this falls?"

Klaase, 63, was one of hundreds of people who received a meal after lining up around the block in Athburg Walk, Hanover Park, on Wednesday.

Meant to feed children living in the poor neighborhood, which is about 20km from the city centre, Klaase, a pensioner, was grateful to get a container of his own when he took the little one to fetch his food.

"This will probably be the only cooked meal we eat today," the retired carpet fitter told News24.

"Food is scarce at home and the only income I have is my pension grant."

Klaase used to earn a few extra rand fixing people's stoves and appliances from his home.

But since the lockdown, he has had little to no business. Those who made use of his services do not have money to pay him.

"So here I am," he said, resigned.

Klaase lives in a council home a few roads away with his two daughters and five grandchildren.

"My daughter is embarrassed that I am fetching food here. But I would rather have something to eat than worry about that."

Karen Breytenbach, a consultant for the District Six Working Committee which co-ordinated the effort on Wednesday, said the meal was prepared by volunteers with ingredients donated by a number of donors.

She - together with the committee's chairperson and owner of Woodstock Breweries, Andre Viljoen - briefly met with Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato who was at the site to assist with the handing out of meals to the little ones.

They had discussed a plan to produce large volumes of food to assist poor neighbourhoods across the city daily within the next few days, Breytenbach said.

"It involves bridging the gap between our farmers on the one hand - who are producing more than enough food but are not able to supply their regular restaurant buyers at present - and the hungry people in the city as well as all the volunteers who are ready to serve them," she added.

They will meet with the mayor and senior City of Cape Town officials on Thursday to discuss the feeding proposal and how it could be implemented.

Plato said partnerships like this were essential to ensure the massive need to feed the poor was met.

"What I have seen here [in Hanover Park] is poverty stricken people, hungry people," he told News24.

"The people don't want to go and steal, they don't want to go and do crime, they just want a plate of food a day to sustain them."

Plato said he would deliver a stove, pots and ingredients to a local soup kitchen as there was no reliable feeding scheme in the area.

But the need was massive and required a partnership between the local government and businesses, he added.

The City has handed out more than 6 000 food parcels so far to people on the Cape Flats.

"I am now on a drive to [equip] soup kitchens, but even that will not be enough.

"We try our best, but with more hands, more companies and more people to assist, I think we should be able to alleviate [the hunger] and reach more [in need]," Plato said.

Source: News24

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