Mngxitama says he was kept on coronavirus hold, ‘assaulted by music’, until he gave up

BLF leader Andile Mngxitama at the group's special policy conference in Durban. Picture: Supplied

In a message this week Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama expressed his frustrations at trying to use a toll-free number ostensibly set up to help people during the anti-Covid-19 lockdown.

“The Gauteng government has provided a toll free number to call to get assistance for those in need of food during the coronavirus lockdown. I though that this was a great initiative and if it works for Gauteng then we must ask that it be done for all provinces.

“But when I tried to call the number on Saturday, on behalf of a community in distress in Pennyville, Johannesburg – who couldn’t call themselves as the signal there was very bad – I was told via a recorded message to call from 7am to 5pm from Monday to Friday to access the service.

“So I tried calling again on Monday. I first tried to call the number via a live broadcast on social media. I held on for 10 minutes and got no response. I subsequently tried calling again. After 30 minutes of holding on, the line dropped automatically, so I called again. Well again after 30 minutes the line dropped. I gave up.”

He said that, while waiting, he had been “assaulted with all kinds of music from the sublime to the putrid”.

He said he had sent Gauteng Premier David Makhura a tweet about the problem.

“I shall be following up. These people must stop playing games. Some of us are not their drinking buddies,” warned Mngxitama.

The number in question was the Gauteng Covid-19 hotline, 0800 428 8364, which government has said can be used for “coronavirus-related questions”.

In a subsequent statement on Tuesday, Mngxitama also expressed condemnation of reports of brutal treatment of citizens at the hands of the army and police.

“We ask President Cyril Ramaphosa to not get the people killed by the police and the army under the pretext of preventing us from being killed by coronavirus.

“Right now the government and coronavirus are neck to neck in taking lives. As of yesterday there were three [later updated to five] coronavirus-related deaths and two deaths allegedly by the security forces.”

The BLF claimed “the excessive force used by the security forces, including shutting down spaza shops, is aimed at driving people to buy at white monopoly capital-owned supermarkets”, adding they saw it as “brutality for profits”.

(Edited by Charles Cilliers)

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