EC hit by winter hunger crisis

People in the Eastern Cape are getting hungrier.

According to social development MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi, many working people are increasingly battling to afford rising food prices.

Dyantyi has launched a provincial winter feeding scheme in Gonubie.

“To cope with the increasing cost of food, many households are cutting the size of their meals or skipping whole meals to make their food stretch.

Social development MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi and ward 27 councillor Boy Boy Kalani feed hundreds of hungry people in Mzamomhle on Tuesday. About 100 people are fed daily at the centre.
Picture: BHONGO JACOB

“People also eat less, buy food that is past the sell-by date and even ask neighbours and relatives for food,” she said.

Dyantyi, speaking in Mzamomhle, said the provincial government, through her department’s nutrition centres, was feeding 2.5 million people in the Eastern Cape.

People also eat less, buy food that is past the sell-by date and even ask neighbours and relatives for food. – MEC Dr Pumza Dyantyi

She said the department has been doing this since 2014, when international rights organisation Oxfam reported that 36% of the people in the Eastern Cape were suffering from “food insecurity”.

Stats SA found that out of the seven million people who lived in the province, 2.52 million were going hungry.

It cost the province R12m a year to serve hungry people hot, nutritious meals daily, said the MEC. Hundreds of hungry residents arrived at the Mzamomhle centre to receive soup and bread at the launch.

Dyantyi said her department had worked with councillors and community leaders to pinpoint the worst-hit areas in the Eastern Cape, where there is dire hunger. They are:

● OR Tambo (Port St Johns, Bholani, Mhlontlo and Malandeni); Alfred Nzo (Luthulini, Mandileni);

● Amathole (Cathcart and Centane);

● BCM: (Phola Park, King William’s Town, Nompumelelo);

● Nelson Mandela Bay: (Walmer, Helenvale);

● Chris Hani: (Ngcobo, Cofimvaba);

● Sarah Baartman (Klipplaat and Rietbron); and

● Joe Gqabi (Lundini and Venterstad).

Dyantyi said 14 million people in South Africa did not know where their next meal would come from.

“We identify people to help make community gardens. They will supply the vegetables for the soup kitchens. This nutritious food has been sourced from one of the co-operatives run by women which the department has developed in Butterworth.”

On Tuesday the department picked 11 women from Mzamomhle to be trained in this way and receive a monthly stipend. Ward councillor Boy Boy Kalani said the area was one of the hardest-hit by poverty in the province.

“Many people come to live here hoping to get jobs since our area is in an urban area but unfortunately many do not find any sort of employment.”

He said they expected to feed around 100 people daily. “Some of the people end up sleeping at the same spots where they sit and beg for jobs.”

Masixole Mrataza, 30, received his meal on Tuesday. He said he had been eating one meal daily almost all his adult life. “There are too many of us who have accepted poverty as our everyday life.”

His words were echoed by Nomsitho Plaatjie, who said: “There are 10 people in my family and no one works. I collect recyclable material to sell. It is not easy to go through garbage bags on an empty stomach.”

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