Kanana residents tired of being sidelined

Angry Kanana residents threatened to cause disruptions if the system to give out food parcels is not changed.

Some residents of Kanana, Section A, are threatening to protest and disrupt the distribution of food parcels in their area because they claim they are sidelined when the handovers take place.

The residents say they have already lost out on many food parcels as the local committee only gives them to those who belong to a certain political party.

Most of these complainants are unemployed and cannot afford to put food on their tables.

Last Wednesday, the angry residents gathered near their community hall to work out a plan to get the parcels.

Among the things they complained about was that the same people got food every time there was distribution.

They said the parcels, which also include hand sanitiser and soap, have been distributed since the Covid-19 lockdown started but benefited only a few family members, friends and politically-aligned people from the local committee. They also complained that the councillor was not available during the coronavirus crisis and that their hall was being used to benefit a few.

The residents have now threatened to chase away anyone who comes to the area with food if that person is not giving it to the poor and vulnerable.

They also want politicians to be removed from the food distribution system.

Ntumeleng Mtlomelo alleged that those who distribute food often told the beneficiaries not to forget their faces when the time came to vote.

“They tell seniors to remember their faces during voting time. What nonsense is that? They keep on giving residents from other areas like the J section, A section, and others are not counted. Things have to come to an end or we will have to take action on our own. We are not working. We have been hungry since the Covid-19 lockdown started,” she told Vukani.

Vuyokazi Matole said the residents had not received any groceries from their ward councillor.

“If there is one person that you cannot rely on, it is our ward councillor. In reality we do not have a councillor here.”

Some residents feared that if they were being overlooked for food now, they would also be forgotten when houses were given out.

Nompumelelo Ntoshe worried about the future. “This tells a sad story of houses to come. Who will get the house? The same people that are given food now and then. This is a big problem. The problem with our leaders: if you ask a lot, you are labelled as an enemy. Most people are victims because they speak out too much,” she said.

Another resident, Lindiwe Mayekiso, said the action by the committee members was going to create problems between residents in the community. “We are all not working and poor. We can not have one section of our society being favoured over others. That’s where the trouble starts. They will also have to tell us what is so special about them that they always give things while others are suffering,” she said.

Zukiswa Mdingi, from the J section, said the situation was the same there, with groceries only given to certain individuals close to the committee members.

Committee member Thembalethu Mandongane has dismissed accusations that his members are giving out vouchers and parcels to friends and family members.

However, he said the A section residents had valid reason to complain.

He said the J section had benefited a lot because there were political dynamics in the area.

He said Kanana was now divided.

“I have never been part of the distribution, but I always receive the information about what happened. There are political dynamics here.

“The truth is the campaign for 2021 has started. My worry is that two people are fighting and this has affected the poor and vulnerable,” he said.

He said most parcels had come from individuals and NGOs. He also suggested that anything that was distributed in the area should go through the leaders.

Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo dismissed the allegations as a propaganda campaign against him.

“There is a campaign to discredit me here. I have nothing to do with all this. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) is busy with my applications. I am waiting for Sassa to tell me when they are distributing food for everyone according to the criteria they wanted. It is unfortunate that people are made to think that I am behind the campaigns that are happening.”

He said when food for distribution arrived, all residents would know.