Companies step in to help Lapland community

SPECIAL MOMENT: Colonel Zolile Douse, commander of the Kamesh police station, hands over a food parcel to Elizabeth Kamotoe, 68, as SAPS members distributed sponsored items to the needy in Lapland yesterday during the Covid-19 lockdown
SPECIAL MOMENT: Colonel Zolile Douse, commander of the Kamesh police station, hands over a food parcel to Elizabeth Kamotoe, 68, as SAPS members distributed sponsored items to the needy in Lapland yesterday during the Covid-19 lockdown
Image: Werner Hills

Residents of the informal settlement of Lapland in Uitenhage yesterday gazed wide-eyed as police officers roamed the streets.

The officers were not, however, looking for transgressors of the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown but were on a mission of mercy — handing out much-needed food parcels.

The food parcels were distributed after concerned citizens had read an article on the Lapland residents’ hardship in Weekend Post’s sister newspaper, The Herald.

Unable to bear the thought of parents listening to their children crying from hunger, they sprang into action, with the police on hand to help.

When the police arrived, some residents ran out of their homes while others ran away, fearful they were there to arrest people.

Yvonne Brown, who helped write a list of those in need,  called the initiative beautiful.

She said she had been shocked to see the police, adding that she would donate her parcel, not because she did not need it but because there were others in more dire need.

“I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. I know which people are more in need. There are homes that have 10 people with not a single person that’s working so that’s how I compiled the list,” Brown said.

About 60 parcels were distributed, with products including 1kg of mielie meal, canned fish, macaroni, sugar, coffee and vegetables.

Johana Pitte, 67, lives at Old Lapland and was among those who felt uneasy when she first saw the police. But that feeling soon dissipated.

Pitte said: “Thank you to the police for delivering the food parcels during the lockdown. I rely on God for my survival. My son is a taxi driver, but he hasn’t been working every day so it was hard.”

A woman aged 40, who asked not to be named, said she had seven children. Three were living with her, while the other four were living with her grandmother.

She said since the lockdown she had had no food and was so stressed that she couldn’t think of any plan to make. She said the food parcels were a miracle.

Debbie Jansen van Vuuren said that after reading the article in the Herald she could not stop thinking of the Lapland residents, especially the children.

“I spoke with my husband Gerrit. Our company, Waterkloof Fresh, supplies fast food outlets with processed vegetables [but] because of the lockdown we had stock that was left over,” she said.

“We decided to donate the food but we felt it was not enough. We contacted the Hanral Construction company, who also donated money and we bought more goods like mielie meal and sugar.”

She said she would like to encourage others to donate what they could because the food for the Lapland residents would last only about a week.

Although there were people who did not receive any groceries they, too, were touched by the donation, saying they appreciated the thought.

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