Concerns over food security in informal settlements have been on the rise around Ekurhuleni during the national Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. As if not having water or sanitation is not enough many have had to worry about not having enough to eat. With informal settlements being epicentres of poverty, the daily struggle of people there became a shocking reality during the past three months.
In Langaville extension 6 informal settlement Brakpan, Nhahla Mate has been going through an ordeal. With a family of fourteen dependants to feed, surviving the lockdown has been a daily struggle
“Every morning when l woke up, my eyes fill up with tears not knowing what l will feed my children,” says Mate, an unemployed single mother.
Mate has been struggling to feed her family of fourteen comprising of her children and grandchildren since the beginning of the National lockdown. They live in two small shacks which have turned rusty and which are on the verge of collapsing. At the back of the yard is a small pit latrine which the whole family shares. There is no electricity or water.
Their home is located in humid area which they say is extremely moist and cold especially at night.
“We only have few blankets and the cold nights are a complete torture, I toss and turn at night due to the piercing cold” says Mate.
Her children do not have warm clothes, to protect them from the cold winter.
Inside Mate’s small kitchen cupboard is a half full container of mealie meal and nothing else. They have had to live off neighbour’s handouts for the past two months. Too embarrassed to keep asking her neighbours for food, they have had to go to bed on an empty stomach a few times.
Although Mate’s three children earn a grant, the money has not been enough to buy food to last a whole month. She is still far from earning a pension and the grant money is not enough to meet all their household needs.
Before the lockdown she used to earn R200 a week doing washing for a house in a nearby township. Her employer asked her to stop coming as they could not afford to pay her anymore.
The money used to help her buy food and other extras for the family. The absence of her occasional job has left a void in her finances.
“What worsens the situation is that kids are not going to school, all day they complain of hunger. Not being able to give them something to eat is painful.’
A few weeks after lockdown some people went around registering people for food relief. Although her name was registered, she has received nothing. She says a few people received food parcels, but no one came in her direction. She went to ask the community representatives who told her that the food parcels were finished.
“Only if l can have mealie meal and other basic food, just so my children can have something to eat.”
We spoke to Themba Madhlopa a community representative from the area. He said,” There are so many people who are struggling in our community. Sadly, the food parcels sent by the government were not enough for everyone.”