Feeding scheme volunteers arrested

Four volunteer food handlers from Vuyiseka High School, in Philippi, were arrested last week for allegedly stealing feeding scheme food.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has condemned the theft of feeding scheme food and has issued a stern warning to perpetrators who are stealing from the poor.

At least three such incidents have been reported over the past year, said the department.

In the latest incident, on Friday August 11, four workers, also known as volunteer food handlers, were arrested by the Philippi East police for stealing food at Vuyiseka High School.

They had stolen, among other things, peanut butter, canned fish, soup and bread. The food is provided as part of government’s efforts to keep pupils, mainly from the quintile 1 and 2 schools – and particularly those from poor families – at school by ensuring that they have something to eat and are able to focus on their studies.

At least 478 144 pupils from 1 010 schools in the province benefit from the scheme. However, it has not always been smooth sailing for the scheme.

Schools that run the scheme are often targeted by criminals and Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for the department, said the workers involved in the theft had been relieved of their duties.

“Anyone involved in the theft of food from the feeding scheme is dismissed immediately,” she said, adding that police were handling the matter.

“Vuyiseka is a quintile 2 school that accommodates 945 pupils,” she said. “It is simply unacceptable that anyone would steal food right out of the mouths of our pupils.”

Police spokesperson Captain Bheki Xulu said three women and a man, aged between 40 and 50, were arrested on Monday August 14.

He said police had received a complaint from the school principal.

Upon their arrival and subsequent investigation at the school, Captain Xulu said it was discovered that the four had stolen groceries to the value of R300.

They appeared at the Philippi Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday August 15.