Looting: ‘We can’t get food to those who need it most’

The widespread violence and looting in South Africa is threatening food security and efforts to feed vulnerable people in impoverished areas. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The widespread violence and looting in South Africa is threatening food security and efforts to feed vulnerable people in impoverished areas. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

With bread already being in short supply due to widespread looting, food security experts warn that, ultimately, the poor and vulnerable will be most affected.

Premier Foods, known for its Blue Ribbon bread, says limited access to fuel, raw ingredients and packaging have already led to bread shortages in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Another giant, Anchor Yeast, is struggling to transport yeast from its Durban factor to major bakeries in Gauteng.

Premier Foods, known for its Blue Ribbon bread, says limited access to fuel, raw ingredients and packaging have already led to bread shortages in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Another giant, Anchor Yeast, is struggling to transport yeast from its Durban factor to major bakeries in Gauteng.

Hanneke van Linge, founder of Nosh Food Rescue. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Now, a food security programme tells Food For Mzansi they too are battling to access community organisations and feeding schemes who rely on their support.

Hanneke van Linge, founder of Nosh Food Rescue, says this week’s violent protest action have hampered their initiatives to redistribute prepared and perishable surplus food to vulnerable communities.

“With the looting and roads being blockaded, our vehicles could not get to the Fresh Produce Market in Johannesburg to collect produce.

“This means the beneficiary organisations can’t get the food that we provide. At the same time, people are scared to come out of their homes to go and collect their daily meal or food parcels,” she says.

According to Van Linge it is tragic that the very people whom they are trying to serve, are most impacted by the violence which initially started off as protests against former president Jacob Zuma’s jailing.

“Most of what we’re doing is logistic [in nature] and the minute the roads are affected, we have a problem. If trucks and vehicles are being targeted, obviously that chain of logistics is affected. This is especially the case if you’re driving with an open trailer of produce, then you’re going to be targeted.”

ALSO READ: Unrest: Looters hit agriculture where it hurts the most

Rising food prices

A food safety expert, Professor Lucia Anelich, confirms that food security has been severely affected.

Professor Lucia Anelich, owner and managing director of Anelich Consulting. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

“Looting food means that businesses may shut down completely and not re-open in the future.

“People working in those stores have also now lost their jobs, exacerbating the unemployment problem which, in turn, increases food insecurity,” she explains in an interview with Food For Mzansi.

Furthermore, food that was to be provided at sufficient quantities to consumers for purchasing under normal circumstances, is now no longer available in affected areas.

Even worse, is that those affected will struggle to access food readily from stores in close proximity. Most likely, they will have to travel far distances at a greater cost to access food, Anelich cautions.

“There is no doubt that this situation will severely affect the poor and vulnerable. In addition, the destruction of food to this extent is likely to cause food price increases, which, in turn, will place further pressure on food security.”

ALSO READ: The cost of looting: ‘We’ve got four days before food runs out’

Backyard food gardens

Caroline McCann, Slow Food International’s Southern Africa councillor. Photo: Lamb Loves Thyme

Meanwhile, Slow Food International’s councillor for southern Africa, Caroline McCann, hopes the current food crisis will encourage people to embrace food gardens.

This was very popular when Covid-19 first hit South Africa, but the true desire to establish backyard gardens quickly died out.

“It was interesting to see how in a very short period, when lockdown started, people suddenly started growing their own food. However, it also fleeted off when some sort of normality was returning at the beginning of this year,” she says.

McCann reckons its naive to think that everyone wants to grow their own food. However, she does believe everyone should. “Because when [looting] happens, the only place that you can absolutely guarantee your food is going to be in your garden.”

ALSO READ: Mzansi dethroned as most food-secure country in Africa

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