Spirit of ubuntu rises from the riot ashes
JANINE MOODLEY firstname.lastname@example.org
IN THE spirit of ubuntu, the banking sector, organisations and members of the public have rallied together to provide relief to communities. These are in the form of financial donations, food distribution, or cleaning up streets and business premises. On Friday, Standard Bank confirmed a donation of R15 million to NGOs. Lungisa Fuzile, the chief executive of Standard Bank, said: “We are working with Gift of the Givers, FoodForward SA through OneFarm Share and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) with whom we have a track record of working together in similar situations.” Gift of the Givers received its first payment of R4.5 million, he said. And an additional R5.5 million has been allocated to FoodForward SA and Unicef. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, the founder of Gift of the Givers, confirmed the donation. He said the contribution from Standard Bank and the generosity from the public and businesses alike had shown unity among South Africans. Their first priority was to help medical staff, Sooliman said. “Our primary target was assisting healthcare workers and paramedics. We could not have them standing in queues for food, as their first point of call is to see to the sick. So we arranged food parcels to last them a month.” Sooliman said the organisation then provided relief to different areas. They began distributing bread and milk in Pietermaritzburg and then to other parts of KwaZulu-Natal. Areas included the Bluff, Merebank, Isipingo, Phoenix and Chatsworth as well as old age homes and orphanages. He said they were working with ashrams, churches and mosques to help distribute food to the needy. “We put together a month’s supply of food for a family of five. This is to take the pressure off the shops and to take as many people off the grid, so that it gives shops time to replenish their goods. “We also want to help the smaller shops, to rehabilitate them and start creating jobs once more.” Sooliman said their aim for this week was to reach areas without access to food. “The minister of agriculture called me to say that 29 areas in the North Coast do not have access to shops. Everything has been damaged, so we have to find a way to get to them. This week there will be a massive rollout. Now it’s about getting food to the people.” He said with several pharmacies looted and damaged, they were also trying to provide medical supplies. Sooliman said they were waiting on hospitals to provide them with lists of what they needed. His team was working tirelessly and would through Eid-ul-Adha today, he said. Several other non-profit and non-government organisations, including the Natal Memon Jamaat Foundation (NMJ), have helped distribute bread and milk to affected communities in KZN. Mahomed Gany, the chairman of NMJ, said over the past five days they distributed 300 000 loaves of bread and 300 000 litres of milk throughout KZN. “This was successfully done directly to the public at the NMJ Islamic Centre and through key distribution nodes throughout KZN handled by NGOs, charities and private individuals.” Islamic Relief South Africa sent two truckloads of essential food items to vulnerable homes in areas such as Merebank, Mayville, Wentworth, Overport, Tongaat and Mtwalume. Fernaaz Hussain, the media co-ordinator for Islamic Relief in KZN, said they responded to the food crisis in the province as soon as it became reasonably safe to do so. She said countless people volunteered to help. “The team was inundated with requests for help and requests from people wanting to send aid. The situation right now is calm yet the effects of the unrest linger as the nation picks itself up. Our work continues and we call on the Durban community to sustain the momentum of helping people in need.” She said the poverty seen during the unrest was devastating. “What is certain during this time, is that poverty sees no colour. We have seen people from every race group standing in line for help.” As part of her ongoing Bash With Tash food drive, comedian Natashia Portrag and her team have been delivering a week’s supply of groceries to the elderly and the sick. “We are doing things differently in that we are not asking people to come to us. We are going door to door to drop off the items due to Covid-19. We have been giving out about 1 000 hampers a day.” Some of the areas they targeted were Phoenix, Chatsworth, Bonella and Isipingo as well as old age homes. Pick n Pay and Boxer’s Feed the Nation programme, to assist communities at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, expanded its work to assist communities. Pieter Boone, the group’s chief executive, said his teams were working tirelessly to bring essential supplies from Gauteng and the Western Cape into the affected areas. “As the situation has eased, we have already reopened many of our stores in KZN and the affected parts of Gauteng. We plan to reopen even more in the coming days. As we do this, the safety of our colleagues and customers remains our first priority.” Meanwhile, Vicky Runjith and Shiraz Adam, of Verulam, have rallied together a team of people to clean up the streets on Friday. “While it angers us to see what destruction has been caused, all we can do is to get back up and rebuild. About 12 community members gathered for the clean-up. We rounded up about 100 bags of dirt,” said Runjith. In Reservoir Hills, residents united to clean the Reservoir Hills Mall which was looted and set on fire. Ish Prahladh, the chairperson of the ratepayers association in Reservoir Hills, said more than 100 residents arrived at the mall on Sunday. “The Reservoir Hills community has been amazing. It has been incredible to see how everyone banded together in a time of crisis. It really warms my heart.” Prahladh said the parking lot and outer areas of the mall were cleaned. No one was allowed inside the mall due to the structural damage. “We made sure no one stepped inside the mall until engineers provide a report on how safe the building is.” In Pietermaritzburg, Sham Govender, a community activist and member of PMB Secure, said: “We are assisting wherever we can. We made sure medical care got to people in distress and we delivered food to the hungry.” Govender also assisted the Khan Road settlement with beds after it was set alight during the unrest. Clean-up operations also took place in the Durban CBD, Pinetown, Chatsworth and other affected areas.