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Poor South Africans get aid amid confinement

May 3, 2020 12:46 AM


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The multi-coloured human chain stretches several kilometres through a township between Johannesburg and Pretoria, past police officers and armoured vehicles.

Residents of Olievenhoutbosch had waited overnight for a non-governmental organisation to distribute 2,200 tonnes of food, masks and gel disinfectant.

"We slept here in order to get this food," said Ndaba Mkhwanazi, 59.

"We slept here to catch the queues. So it took too long because we are too many, but at least we appreciate what the government is doing," the jobless man added.

On March 27, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered confinement measures for the country that plunged millions of poor people into dire situations.

They often depend on informal jobs to survive, and in recent weeks isolated incidents erupted in several townships as people demanded food aid promised by the government.

The confinement has helped curb the virus in South Africa, where around 6,000 people have been infected and a little more than 100 have died.

The country was already in recession however, and it has now begun to gradually lift the confinement measures.

"People need to eat, they need to earn a living," Ramaphosa acknowledged.

In Olievenhoutbosch, the Mahlasedi Foundation hoped to distribute food parcels to 30,000 people.

"We're working with each area," noted foundation worker Sfiso Msiza.

"We’ve already handed out tags for food so now they must come here and get their food," she explained.

Ramaphosa has unveiled a package of economic and social support measures worth more than $26 billion, of which about 10 percent is earmarked for aid to the poor.

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