By Busisani Ncube
Patience Sibanda is a Zimbabwean domestic worker based in Johannesburg, South Africa where she resides with her two teenage children.
She has been unable to work since March because of the lockdown that forced shut the doors of many businesses and restricted movement and interaction as government introduced restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the deadly pandemic.
By Tuesday midday, South Africa had 311049 confirmed cases with deaths nearing 5000.
“Obviously people aren’t comfortable bringing someone into their home because of Covid-19,” says Sibanda, who resides in Alexander, one of the poorest urban areas in the country.
The situation means she is unable to fend for her two kids, aged 11 and 16.
Recently, she received a food parcel with maize meal, rice, baked beans, tinned fish, sugar beans, 800g of peanut butter, tinned Chakalaka, packets of soup, cooking oil, tea bags, jam, sugar, coffee creamer, salt and laundry soap.
Her family is among 9500 other families that have received aid from T2N, a market leader in the pharmaceutical, pro-pack and logistics industries, in partnership with the Gauteng Food Security Committee.
The aid has reached 38 000 people who include informal traders, people living in informal settlements and immigrants in Gauteng and the North West provinces.
“We’re so grateful. This is the first time we’ve been able to have proper meals at home since lockdown started,” Sibanda said.
T2N site executive Thandani Nkomo Zwide said about 35% of the people that have received the aid are foreign nationals. They have distributed 232.8tons of food and essentials to ease the sting of lockdown on child-headed homes, orphaned children, gender-based violence victims and migrants.
“It’s something you don’t derive profit from, but it warms our hearts that in this dark time we’ve been able to light up the hearts of the less fortunate. We’ve offered our expertise and world-class facilities to assist to get the food out in the most dignified manner,” Zwide said.
He added that the same high standards applied when handling pharmaceutical products were observed when making up food parcels. He said they were aware of the need for vulnerable households to access safe and nutritious food during the State of Disaster – which has been extended to August 15.
“We can’t have a situation where we give food items that are unfit for human consumption while the world is already in this precarious position. So, we must ensure the highest hygiene standards are exercised,” Zwide added.
In Randburg, 53 families, who are part of the Golden Harvest Seventh Day Adventist Church, received the aid.
Angela Muzamhindo, a community services department leader at the church, said it was a timeous intervention.
“The packages had everything a family needs to prepare meals for the whole day. People were so grateful because lockdown has had a negative impact on many of them,” she said.