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Food parcel corruption claims must be probed

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Companies and public officials should not look to amass wealth during the lockdown

IT APPEARS once again that corruption is rearing its ugly head and, as usual, the main casualties are those from impoverished communities.

It is disheartening to hear that there could possibly be maladministration and collusion in the distribution of food parcels to the poor in the Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.

The debate over the past 24 hours has been whether the parcels donated to various families really amount to R1 200.

One of the pictures circulated on Twitter for the better part of Sunday showed a handful of items that have allegedly been included to compile a basic food basket.

One of the pictures displayed a 1kg packet of sugar, one small tin of Pilchards sardines, one loaf of brown bread, a small packet of maize meal and a ton of cabbage.

It is believed that various families were also given forms by a municipality in the Free State to confirm that they had received their food parcels.

While no one, especially those who urgently need help from others, can dictate what form of donation they should receive from NGOs or good Samaritans, it is unacceptable that those funds released by the government could be squandered by officials in public office.

The rage displayed by Twitter users is warranted as many have asked if families who have members currently starving, could be expected to live on such measly donations until the end of the lockdown.

While the pictures circulated yesterday have not yet been verified, it would be a grave injustice if it all turns out to be true. It begs the question as to who determined what items should form part of these food baskets. It also leads to us asking where the rest of the money went if these items do not amount to R1 200.

Another frightening discovery is how retail supermarkets have allegedly hiked their food prices, while other companies are charging exorbitant prices for medical equipment and supplies such as masks.

Last week, the Competition Commission fined Babelegi Workwear Overall Manufacturers & Industrial Supplies CC after it was said to have hiked mask prices by almost 1 000%.

Covid-19 has adversely affected everyone, but companies and public officials should not look to amass wealth during this period by milking dry even the poorest of the poor.