Ibusa founder Malinga motivated to give by loss of her unborn daughter

Freezing weather no damper for NGO to feed the homeless

Nkareng Matshe Sports editor
Mpho Snail, centre, and the Ibusa Foundation volunteers, prepare food at the Randburg Baptist Church before heading out to feed the needy on Monday.
Mpho Snail, centre, and the Ibusa Foundation volunteers, prepare food at the Randburg Baptist Church before heading out to feed the needy on Monday.
Image: Nkareng Matshe

As SA woke up to what weather forecasters portrayed as the third coldest day in the country for a decade this week, an undeterred organisation, the Ibusa Foundation, could be found going about their business of feeding the needy in the streets of Randburg, Joburg.

Despite temperatures dropping to minus three degrees Celsius, which had been precipitated by rare snowfall, Ibusa made it a point of cooking a home-made meal for street dwellers around the Randburg and Roodepoort areas – as they do every Monday.

Steven Galeboe Mokatsane serves food to a homeless person.
Steven Galeboe Mokatsane serves food to a homeless person.
Image: Nkareng Matshe

“For most, it’s the only decent meal they have for the week,” explained founder Mpumi Malinga, who runs the foundation out of her own pocket, assisted by family members and friends.

The dreadful loss of her daughter, who passed on just after birth in 2011, is what motivated Malinga to start Ibusa. Like most expectant parents, she had stocked up on clothes anticipating a newborn but when tragedy struck, she came up with the idea of donating them to the needy.

“After I lost my daughter in July 2011, I thought I would donate the clothes on the exact date the following year. In 2012 I found a new father to give the items to. I wanted this to be an annual thing as a way of remembrance, but I realised there was a growing need of assisting the helpless street dwellers, not just kids,” Malinga said.

It was only at the height of Covid-19 lockdown three years ago, with the government sweeping the streets and forcefully removing homeless inhabitants, that she registered Ibusa with the social development department.

“My husband and I had built relations with street dwellers because we used to cook for them and share whatever little we had at home. But when the government said they had to be removed, we opposed that and told officials that these people had nowhere to go. They then advised me to register the organisation before they could listen to our plea.”  

The foundation has grown since, and demand for food and clothes for the needy has inevitably become too much.

“Not all the people in the streets are there by choice. Some are there because they cannot afford rent. [Some] have proper jobs, but the income is just too little, so they’d rather sleep under a bridge.”

Malinga runs Ibusa from her Randburg home, but this month she collaborated with the Randburg Baptist Church to use their premises for cooking purposes every Monday. It is where she could be found along with four volunteers preparing to head into the cold night – until a power outage struck. That still didn’t deter them.

“The dedication we have to this cause is such that we make every situation work,” said Mpho Snail, who serves as one of the foundation’s directors.

Mpumi Mokatsane hands out food to the needy.
Mpumi Mokatsane hands out food to the needy.
Image: Nkareng Matshe

As with any non-profit organisation, Ibusa has challenges, chief among them transport required to ferry donated items, and food, to the needy.

“We appeal to anyone to sponsor us with a truck or van. Currently we rely on benevolent friends who lend us their cars to collect food from donors such as Woolworths. We are fully self-funded and it costs a lot to run this operation. We would also welcome financial contributions. As a transparent, registered organisation we can open our books to anyone,” said Snail.

Next week on Mandela Day, the foundation will be heading to Coronation Hospital for a toy-donation drive. They are also planning a big feed for the homeless at Princess Park squatter camp on the West Rand.

“We have partnered with the community there, Princess and Jerusalem, and fortunately we have collected donated clothes. We will cook for about 200 people on Mandela Day,” said Malinga.

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