Hungry people beg army for food in Diepsloot

Police and the army patrol in Diepsloot./THULANI MBELE
Police and the army patrol in Diepsloot./THULANI MBELE

A plea for food was the loudest cry as residents of Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, encountered the army and police convoys patrolling the streets and urging people to go into their yards yesterday.

"We are hungry, we are hungry," shouted residents to the convoy moving in the small narrow roads in Diepsloot Extension 6. The convoy was received with caution by the community as some residents ran away fearing arrest, those willing to listen to the army speaking on a megaphone were also given Covid-19 awareness pamphlets.

On the rooftop of a military vehicle known as a Mamba, the army spoke to residents through a megaphone, urging them to adhere to the lockdown regulations.

"We are pleading with you to stay in your homes. We do not want to lose any more lives, this virus is real" was a repeated call to residents.

A group of residents gathering at the Diepsloot Primary School waiting for food parcels was dispersed as there was no handout of food parcels. The residents had allegedly been gathering outside the school for the past three days.

An emotional Tshenolo Landane, 26, who couldn't hold back tears, said all she was asking for was for food.

"I live with five children, three of my own and two from my sister, every day they come running to me asking if I have food, it pains me because my children are going to die of hunger," Landane said.

"I have been coming to the school for the past three days hoping to get food."

Landane survives by going door to door asking people to do their laundry.

Another resident, Connie Naledi, 42, said this was the first time she has had to beg for food.

"This is the first time I had to do something like this; we are not here because we want to, we are here because we don't have food in our homes. We want to abide with the rules, but we are begging for food."

Two people were arrested for drinking in public.

"We are here to create awareness of the virus, but we are also here to enforce the regulations. We are trying to save lives, so we ask the community to cooperate with us in order for the lockdown to be uplifted," said Capt Thabo Sello, speaking on behalf of the SANDF.

Asked about the recent cases of brutality from the army, he said: "We are investigating cases of brutality, it is not in the nature of our members to be abusive. We are talking to them and discouraging any form of abusive; they know what is right and what is wrong."

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