Pretoria - The state of food security in South Africa displays itself vividly when young people of working age queue for donations with pensioners and children, #NotInMyName International president Siyabulela Jentile said yesterday.
He was touched by the number of Atteridgeville youth who braved the heat to queue for basic food supplies.
The civic movement partnered with Shoprite and Premier Foods to distribute food parcels to residents of informal settlements established by economically disadvantaged residents in the mountains of Atteridgeville.
Jentile said to see youth who had finished school, but did not know know what to do next, appreciate food donations in such a way was not only heartbreaking but also showed that there was still a lot to be done if South Africa was serious about securing the future of its youth.
He said this was clearly a call for all spheres of government – irrespective of the political party in charge – business and civil society to hold hands, look at the youth, and ask themselves what could they do to carve a better tomorrow for the young people who are desperate for opportunities.
The organisation’s secretary-general, Themba Masango, had to work hard to calm the people and bring order as the youth and old began panicking that they would not receive the food they desperately needed.
They had prepared for 1 200 people who registered on behalf of their families from informal settlements such as Mshongoville, Tsamaya and Brazzaville. Fortunately they managed to give everybody some food.
Jentile said: “This is a continuation of the food relief programme we have been doing with Shoprite since the beginning of the pandemic across the country. We are also joined by Premier Foods who are witnessing with us the dire state of food security in our communities.
“We had a list of beneficiaries who registered prior to us coming here but because of poverty, when people see others queueing and receiving food they also come because they too need food.
“Unfortunately we are at a point where when you tell people to register to receive food parcels, they think maybe we are just a group of politicians lying to them.
“But we are not politicians and we are not affiliated to any political party. The people need a voice to speak and fight against social injustices.
“This turn-out puts a spotlight on the rate and state of inequality in South Africa. You can talk about the levels of unemployment using figures and statistics, but when you come to such areas you get to see it.
“Seeing young people who say they have matric queueing with a 70-year-old shows you that.
“An elderly woman told us it was pointless to vote on November 1 while her children had no jobs. However, as a civil movement, we encourage our people to go and vote for change or a government they believe will serve them and change their lives.”
Jentile challenged civil society and business to also raise their hands and assist the government to eradicate the challenges of poverty.
Neo Mathe, 27, and Clarence Bopape, 33, said life had been hard for them since they had become adults, because they realised they now had to provide for themselves in a country where opportunities were limited and education was expensive.
“We did not register (for the food parcels) but we cannot pretend we do not need food. We need food because it is also extremely hot, so to go out and wait on corners for piece jobs is hard and sometimes fruitless,” Bopape said.