Soldiers dig into own pockets to donate food parcels

Army personnel donated food parcels to community members.
Army personnel donated food parcels to community members.
Image: Gino Santa Maria/123RF

Hawker Portia Mlangeni has received an unexpected pleasant visit from the army at her home.

Army personnel in full uniform were at the informal settlements around Wattville near Benoni in Ekurhuleni on Friday where they donated food parcels to some of the most impoverished families in the area.

For more than three months, Mlangeni hasn't been able to make any money as her business as a hawker, her source of income, has been negatively hit by lockdown regulations.

Mlangeni sells snacks, biscuits and loose cigarettes to supplement her grandchildren's social grant money to ensure they're well-fed and have warm clothes in winter.

"It's been very difficult, especially without cigarettes... I can't do much and there are no jobs available due to the coronavirus."

Mlangeni, 52, and her three grandchildren were among a dozen families that received food parcels donated by army personnel from the nearby Tambo regiment. The parcels included potatoes, cooking oil, maize meal, canned fish and baked beans among others.

"I'm happy with what they have done for us because it's been a struggle. My daughter, who has her own home to take care of, had to also assist me."

Mlangeni said she wished the army could donate to other families in the same situation.

Tambo regiment spokesperson Capt Mbulelo Tetani told Sowetan they decided to dig into their not-so-deep pockets to buy struggling families food.

"The idea came from the Methodist Church pastors... because most people have lost jobs due to Covid-19, they have nothing and they're struggling."

Tetani said they managed to raise in excess of R4,000 to assist 12 families with groceries.

"We are working with local social workers and the church which identified these families. It makes us feel good as the defence force, the last line of defence, to be able to do something for the community."

Lebogang Nyathi, 21, who lives with her pensioner mother, said they have been relying solely on food parcels for two full months as her mother, who is a domestic worker, only returned to work recently.

"I am a student, and my only source of support is my mother whose pension money covers our debts and the little change that remains can't really do much but we are grateful for what the army people have done by donating food parcels because we are struggling."

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