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Tafelsig: ‘We are the poorest of the poor and nobody is coming to help’

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Tafelsig, a community in the heart of Mitchells Plain, one of the largest townships on the Cape Flats has been exhausted by the lockdown imposed on the country in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Mitchells Plain in its entirety has an estimated population of over 300, 000 people. It is known for its sporadic acts of gangsterism and crystal meth addiction among the youth.

Community activist, Joanie Fredericks from Tafelsig said for residents, Covid-19 and the regulations that come with abiding by the national lockdown will always be second to the incessant need to stop the pangs of hunger that is a challenge in and out of the lockdown.


loaves of bread at Fredericks’ house ready for distribution

“There’s never been a lockdown in Tafelsig. The moment the lockdown came into effect, there was an immediate loss of income. Many of these people were used to receiving their food from NGOs. They will rather take their chance with the coronavirus and find something to fill their stomachs,” said Fredericks.

Fredricks said she fears for the future and the progression of the virus as many residents are still unaware of the full weight of the virus. Earlier this week, Premier Alan Winde said the health department theorizes that at the peak of the virus in the country they expected 80 000 civilians to be infected. As it stands the province has just over 1000 positive cases of COVID-19.

“There has been absolutely no adherence to lockdown regulations. In fact many of these people still have no idea what the virus is and what it means thus I foresee a massive increase in infections,” stated Fredericks.

Children playing in the streets of Tafelsig amid lockdown regulations

Fredricks suggested in order to adequately inform the public, the state should have recruited community personnel on the ground that residents respect and understand.

“Going forward, there needs to be a new way of communicating with the grass-roots. The message needs to be in a language that people understand by people that the community can identify with,” said Fredericks.

A senior resident in Tafelsig, Francis Longman, who tries to provide a warm meal for the residents of her street, said the situation is dire. Every time she leaves her home she is called back to assist someone in need.

“Children are walking around with nappies that are soiled from the day before yesterday. These people are the poorest of the poor. They have no money and they have nowhere to turn to and nobody is offering help,” cried Longman.

However, several Western Cape municipalities have already put plans in place to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in their communities. The Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning department said Mossel Bay’s public spaces are currently being disinfected and the City of Cape Town will send 31 water trucks to communities struggling with water supply. The department’s James-Brent Styan says several food aid programmes are already well underway.


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