Cape Town – “We must keep looking after the people because if we don’t, many more will suffer from starvation and hundreds will die while President Cyril Ramaphosa has proven beyond any doubt that he doesn’t give a damn.”
This was the assessment of Joanie Fredericks, of Tafelsig Mitchells Plain CAN and the Mitchells Plain Community Action Network, in her urgent appeal for bread, spreads, food ingredients and vegetables, adding “our communities are not after fancy food, we are absolutely happy and fulfilled with peanut butter and jam’’.
Fredericks, who expects more people to die from hunger than Covid-19 and had made an appeal to Ramaphosa at the start of the lockdown, told IOL on Wednesday: “I am under the impression our president, together with his ministers, has forgotten that he is president of the people.”
On social media, she thanked those who have given their support during the six months of the lockdown, but added: ’’Most of the time you shared with us from the little you had. Now I ask you to dig deeper than ever before, give!”
Asked what the signs are that the hunger crisis is worsening, Fredericks said: ‘’I run a whole network of feeding stations and we are serving three times more people than at the beginning of the lockdown.
“This is a clear indication that the feeding stations that were around in March have folded and are no longer able to feed the people.
’’A lot of people who used to have work are now joining the food queue because there are simply no jobs. They have no way to feed themselves and their families unless we can give them something to eat on a daily basis.
‘’This is not going to end until the government comes to the table and works with us on a plan. I am dead set against people receiving handouts, but we are now in a phase where we need to feed the people, we don’t have a choice.
‘’Right now we need all hands on deck so we can feed the people. There is a possibility of a second wave of the coronavirus coming and as you know our communities have never adhered to the lockdown regulations. Unless the government comes to the table, people are going to die.”
Regarding her aim to pursue a Constitutional Court case against Ramaphosa over his ’’failure to address the hunger crisis in the country, the biggest humanitarian crisis it has seen“, Fredericks said: ‘’For the last couple of weeks I have been speaking to many different sources, who have referred me to various lawyers.
“Many of the lawyers in South Africa are in bed with the government. Because those who I have spoken to so far who could pick up our case, are saying, ’Joanie, we can’t because we have contracts with the government or I have contracts with the president’.
‘’So it sounds to me very much that the lawyers, or those that I have tried to get hold of, have already sold their souls to the devil. But I am not giving up, later today I am going to make a video appeal because there must be a lawyer who is his or her own person.”
She had sent a video message to Ramaphosa at the start of the lockdown, which went viral, and was one of the organisers behind the Dear Mr President video project in August, on behalf of thousands of other soup kitchens and food activists across South Africa, which tells the collective stories of desperate communities.
Fredericks had intended to deliver this video personally to the president with comedian Marc Lottering.
However, she said the video and song What About the People, written by Lottering and performed by Craig Lucas, ’’wasn’t enough to move Mr President’’, with the person she contacted at the President’s Office ’’just keeping on dangling this meeting without a date in front of me and it’s not bringing us anywhere’’.