Stealing food parcels sheer greed

Image: 123RF/RICHARD THOMAS

Corruption has reared its ugly head, thwarting government's plans to feed the poor who are affected by the national lockdown aimed at containing the spread of Covic-19. Food parcels meant for the needy are not reaching intended recipients because of greed, theft and favouritism.

News headlines have been dominated by reports of councillors accused of giving the food to their relatives, friends or selling it. Ordinary citizens who do not qualify for food aid were also reported to have used fraudulent documents to obtain the parcels.

Yesterday, SowetanLIVE reported on a Midvaal councillor who allegedly fleeced poor household of R3 "for data", claiming to use it to submit food parcel requests via email to the Gauteng social development department.

City Press reported on councillors who were allegedly securing donations of food from businesses but the parcels did not get to intended households. Instead, they kept them for themselves and their loved ones. The Star also reported on citizens who had used their deceased relatives' identity numbers to secure food meant for the needy in some parts of Johannesburg, leaving the intended beneficiaries with nothing.

The ANC said it was investigating the Midvaal incident, but if the councillor was indeed making the vulnerable pay to get the food they needed, he or she deserves to be sent to jail. The same goes for all the people who are illegally benefitting from the parcels. They have no shame but are driven by greed for taking what they do not need and, in turn, risking the lives of people who are really starving.

Last week, we reported that Gauteng alone was receiving 7,000 calls a day requesting food parcels but could only help 2,000. The elements of criminality that we are reporting on will make this situation worse, which could lead to people dying of starvation.

We urge you to report all people who are taking advantage of the crisis and diverting the parcels to themselves to the police.

We are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, which has ravaged the world. This is not the time to be selfish and greedy. Our focus should be on making sure that nobody dies of starvation during this period and on flattening the Covid-19 curve.

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