In South Africa confined to, “this is war” to feed in the poor suburbs

En Afrique du Sud confinée, «c’est la guerre» pour se nourrir dans les banlieues pauvres

CAPE town, south Africa | ” Mr. president, we are going through a food crisis. This is the war here, ” says Joanie Fredericks. In South Africa confined, clashes with police and looting break out in poor neighbourhoods, where the stomachs are starving.

“People have vandalized shops. They have attacked people. The only reason is that they are hungry, ” explains the activist associative in a video coup-de-poing posted on the social networks.

This week, the inhabitants of his suburb of Mitchells Plain, near Cape town (south-west), frustrated not to receive food from the government, have burned tyres and threw stones at police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets and tear gas.

A few kilometers from there, private security officers, helpless, could only watch dozens of young people robbing a supermarket.

In South Africa, the first industrial power of the continent, 20 % of households, in normal times, insufficient access to food, according to the Office for national statistics.

The situation has suddenly deteriorated with the containment of anti-coronavirus in force for three weeks, extended by the president, Cyril Ramaphosa until the end of April.

Many inhabitants of the ghettos and slums have lost one day to the next employment and income.

Risks of outbreak of violence

The authorities have put in place a food distribution to the most vulnerable, but many South Africans have been slow to receive the parcel yet vital, such as in the region of the Cape.

“When you look at the info, we see that it distributes things in different areas of our province, but not in Tafelsig,” a district of Mitchells Plain, observes the president of a local association, Liezl Manual.

In this context, explosive, experts warn against the risk of an outbreak of violence.

“As some do not receive food parcels, and to hear about others that they receive, they begin to react,” says Julian May, director of the Centre of excellence for food safety of the university of south africa the Western Cape.

“Unless a rapid distribution of food for the inhabitants of the poor neighbourhoods “, the situation should not improve, he warned.

Without surprise, the containment has once again highlighted the very sharp inequalities of south african society. “Some of us stay at home and get fat while others really have nothing,” says he.

“If people can’t have food, there is a strong likelihood of violent conflict, including large-scale looting,” warns the south african Institute of the earth Plaas, which was concerned about the repression of the security forces.

The track of the allocations

“If the police and the army decided to use force to enforce the containment, ( … ), as has been the case in recent days, the legitimacy of the containment may be challenged, with health consequences disastrous “, adds Plaas.

This week, the social Development minister Lindiwe Sisulu has promised to improve the food distribution.

During the first week of April, a total of 48 441 parcels of food have been delivered.

But for Julian May, the government should prefer the distribution of cash to that of food, using the system, already well established, allowances.

The government is ” effective when it comes to give cash “, it “is not when it comes to distribute the food,” he says.

“They told us that we would have packages. Where are the packages ? ” asks a mother of a family, from Mitchells Plain, Nazlie Bobbs.

Joanie Fredericks shares his anger. “We should not have to choose between dying of the COVID-19, or die of hunger ! ”

South Africa is the country in sub-saharan Africa is the most affected by the pandemic of new coronavirus, with almost 2800 cases of infection, including 50 deaths.

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