DA claims people arrested for handing out food

Residents of Olievenhoutbosch can be seen queuing to receive food parcels, 2 May 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The party says food relief is being tightly controlled and this could lead to corruption.

The DA is calling for food providers to be classified as essential services to stop them being detained by police.

The party said it had heard reports of individuals being arrested and organisations being harassed by police when trying to give food to poor communities. They did not give any specific cases.

The DA’s James Lorimer said: “We are calling on government to make it as easy as possible for NGOs who are providing food relief and who have been recognised as essential services to obtain the necessary permits swiftly and efficiently and for them to be able to distribute food to as many people in need as possible.

“Government, especially the National Command Council, has been hellbent on centralising every single aspect of our lives during this Covid- 19 crisis and now they want to centralise food relief.”

Lorimer said government control of food relief was a “gateway” to corruption and that civil organisations should be more empowered to take part in relief operations.

“Red tape must be replaced by a red carpet for these organisations. NGOs should be able to operate optimally and without being harassed in their life-saving role,” said Lorimer.

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