Home News WATCH: N Cape mayor intervenes in food parcel row

WATCH: N Cape mayor intervenes in food parcel row

159
SHARE

Residents in the area accused the ward councillor and committee members of selecting friends and family as beneficiaries of food parcels.

THE BAN on mass gatherings was grossly violated in Leerkrans, situated about 30 kilometres outside Upington, on Wednesday, with Dawid Kruiper Municipality mayor Michael Segede having to intervene after a large crowd of community members gathered following allegations that food parcels were being fraudulently distributed.

Residents in the area accused the ward councillor and committee members of selecting friends and family as beneficiaries of food parcels.

The residents claimed that they had thwarted the plans of the council members when they called the police after noticing that some of the food products were allegedly being delivered to the homes of those close to council members on Tuesday afternoon.

They said the police confiscated the food and promised that the food parcels would be distributed to the rightful beneficiaries on Wednesday.

Community members gathered from early Wednesday morning, waiting for the police to distribute the promised parcels.

Segede arrived on the scene later that day and told the crowd that they were breaking the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, while he sought to defuse the situation.

“According to the law, we are not supposed to gather,” he said. 

“However, this matter needed urgent intervention. Many people are under the impression that the distribution of food parcels falls within the portfolio of the municipality, however it is the responsibility of the Department of Social Development. The department, along with Sassa, welfare and the soup kitchens, decide which beneficiaries should get a food parcel. 

“The municipality merely assisted in identifying indigent and zero-income households. The list of beneficiaries is also verified by the Department of Social Development, which then decides who will be a recipient of a food parcel. The challenge is that the demand is high and not everyone will receive a food parcel.”

The crowd explained to Segede that they were aware that not everyone in the community would be a beneficiary but insisted that the councillor and ward committee members had not followed the correct procedures.

“These food parcels were not distributed fairly. Why did ward committee members deliver food parcels at the homes of their friends and why was some of the food left at the storeroom at the dam?” they asked.

Segede instructed the ward councillor to address the crowd and provide clarity on the matter.

According to the councillor, ward committee members had to make use of some residents’ private vehicles after they got word from the department that they should collect the food parcels.

“The Department of Social Development indicated that it did not have transport to deliver the food parcels in Leerkrans. We then got two bakkies to drive to Upington to collect the food parcels. We received 54 food parcels for Leerkrans. Upon our arrival back in Leerkrans, the owner of the bakkie said that the vehicle was needed in Upington. We offloaded the mealie meal and bread flour, which were loaded on the bakkie, at the house of one of the residents. We then continued to deliver the food parcels to the beneficiaries. We managed to distribute 36 food parcels but the mealie meal and flour were not distributed. We did not have transport, hence we could not deliver the flour and mealie meal to the beneficiaries,” he said.

Outraged residents asked the councillor why they only received half of their food packs and why they were not informed about the transport challenge.

“We are not demanding that we all get a food parcel but we are asking for transparency in the distribution process. Why was the flour and other food products not left at the hall or the clinic or even at the municipal office … why did they have to be left at someone’s house? Plus, those who received the food parcels were never informed that they would still receive their flour. 

“Anyone would suspect corruption when you see more than 100 bags of mealie meal being offloaded at someone’s house. Surely the police would also not have intervened if there was no criminal intent. The councillor and ward committee are lying.”

The councillor responded by saying that the flour and mealie meal, together with the  other outstanding food parcels, were delivered to the Department of Social Development.

He said the department indicated that no food parcel would leave its offices and that it had taken ownership of the process.

Segede said that the ward committee members denied the allegations against them. He added that the municipality would deliberate on the matter and attempt to find a resolution.

The police then assisted in dispersing the crowd, with community members leaving peacefully and going to their respective homes.

“The councillor is a liar but God will deal with him,” they said, as they walked off.