Heinz Park, a severely impoverished area that sits tucked away between Phillipi and Mitchells Plain was the home to murdered 14-year-old Janika Mallo who was found raped and bludgeoned to death in her grandmother’s yard last year, and since then, not much has changed in the poverty stricken area.
Most residents find themselves without running water, electricity or proper housing. Informal structures plague the land and the lockdown has done nothing but exacerbate the frustration residents feel.
Late last month, clashes broke out between police and residents along the R300 after there was an attempt to loot a truck by a group of mostly youngsters. However, residents said they have no other choice as not a single food parcel by government has made its way into the destitute area.
“The struggle in Heinz Park is real. Ever since the looting situation happened, Heinz Park hasn’t seen a single food parcel or food voucher. Promises are made but nothing ever materializes… it’s as if we don’t exist. The government and God has forgotten about us,” said an anonymous resident.
Community worker and neighborhood watch media spokesman, Mogamat Mohamed said he has taken it upon himself to feed the community as the government is nowhere to be seen.
“There is no excuse. If you really want to do something, you’ll do it. I looked around me and saw all these hungry children and realized if I don’t do something, nobody will. We have lost all hope in the government and need to do what we can to survive,” said Mohamed.
Resident of Heinz Park, Tashreeq Perry, said as a father of three the lockdown has exacerbated the already dire situation.
“In the informal settlement that I live in there is no running water, no electricity, and no proper sanitation. I have accepted my situation but I cannot accept that my daughter has to grow up in this environment and expect a shack from her husband,” sobbed Perry.
Perry continued and said the poorest of the poor are most affected by the lockdown.
“You can’t expect a family of nine to stay in a shack all day. The grants that we get from the government goes straight into the pocket of loan sharks because our people have lost their jobs and need to depend on others to get by. It’s sad but it’s the reality,” explained Perry.
Furthermore, resident Leanne Isaacs said her last resort is to sell her body or end her life.
“I don’t have an income and sometimes I feel like I should just kill myself or sleep with men in order to sustain myself. It’s difficult. I am heartbroken. I can’t even speak about it because nobody truly cares,” said a choked-up Isaacs.
Resident, Washiela Charles explained that the lockdown has done nothing but plunge her into further suffering.
“Our children are suffering… we are suffering. We try our best to get through the day that’s all we can do, we live in the now. We don’t have anything, they have completely forgotten about us,” stammered Charles.
A few days after VOC News published the story on social media, the montage video, which now has over 55 000 views, elicited a huge reaction on Instagram, with scores of people wanting to assist. On Thursday one viewer Shanaaz Jacobs made contact with our interview subject Perry and went out to the community to cook huge pots of food. Jacobs launched the Smiles for Miles Foundation in 2016 after her son passed away in an accident. Yesterday marked 5 years since his passing and the NPO spent the day reaching out to residents in Heinz Park.
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