Some foreign nationals in Gauteng say government has excluded them from social relief. The foreign nationals say they also cannot work during the lockdown and food parcels have not yet reached them.
Many are asylum seekers and depend on casual work to survive.
The scars of a tortured past, replete with the horrors of civil war and later land grabs and civil disquiet.
Almost two decades later, the 42-year-old Zimbabwean national, Progress Mpofu, faces a silent threat of COVID-19 pandemic on foreign soil.
“I was surviving with two piece jobs, and I was selling second hand clothes.”
But the lockdown, still in effect, continues to dry up her income.
Progress Mpofu says, “It’s very difficult. I don’t want to lie. Nowadays, I am having depression. I always sleep and then cry the whole night, not knowing what to do the following day.”
The mother of two says she can’t console her children either.
“Especially my 5-year-old girl. She’s crying most of times when the situation is like this, because she’s used to finding something. Nowadays, there’s nothing in the house.”
Mpofu is just among hundreds of foreign nationals in need of food.
Malawian national Noel Nyirenda says, “It’s tough because you wake up without eating … sometimes no electricity. Where am I going to get the money because I am doing piece jobs?”
Others feel there is a lack of communication on the ground.
Spokesperson for Friends of Migrants and Refugees in SA Gugu Ncube says, “Why are they not even concerned about us? They know that some of the refugees that ran from home, they ran away because of the current government, that’s not helping the poor.”
“I am a woman. I need sanitary towels, and how am I going to maintain that dignity? So is my dignity sacrificed at this present moment? What exactly is happening to humanity, to Ubuntu? What’s happening Africa?
Meanwhile, Social Development says food parcels distribution is not exclusive.
Acting MEC for Social Development in Gauteng Panyaza Lesufi says, “Our approach is simple, whoever is appropriately documented to be inside the country will get support, and if people are not documented to be in the country, it’s unfortunate. We will request them to deal with that aspect so that they can be in a queue. We are not discriminating.”
And in more efforts to boost food security, donors are stepping up.
Co-chair for MealSA, Yunus Suleman, says, “We have an ambitious target a million bags of 12.5kg mielie meal at R60 towards the journey and the food hampers the departments are distributing.”
While government works on these challenges for now there’s scant help for the foreign nationals who escaped one hell for another.
Until food reaches them many including children will go hungry tonight.
In the video below, President Ramaphosa talks about measures to deal with the effects of COVID-19 on the economy:
R500 billion COVID-19 Economic Plan: