Child Hunger

‘I will collect food from school if it was an option’

By Maverick Citizen 12 June 2020

(Photo: Leila Dougan)

Bongi (not real name), 17, lives in Daveyton, Gauteng and is a Grade 10 learner at HB Nyathi High School. There are five (5) people living in her household, including two of her siblings who also attend school. One of her sisters is 12 years old and attends Grade 7 at Katlego Primary School. Her other sister is 16 years old and in Grade 10 at Hulwazi High School.

SECTION27 and the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) have approached the court on behalf of a number of learners, parents, teachers and school governing bodies in an attempt to get the government to feed millions of children who have gone hungry since the schools closed during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was hoped that, once schools started re-opening, the school feeding schemes, which are planned and budgeted for, would resume in full. However, the Minister and the Department of Basic Education have opted, for now, to only feed Grade 7 and 12 children.

SECTION27 and EELC have filed a number of affidavits on behalf of their clients – Equal Education and the School Governing Bodies of two schools.

Maverick Citizen has been given access to affidavits from the SECTION27 and EELC clients and they make for harrowing reading. They tell a story of extreme hunger and poverty, but also of a government that has to be dragged to court to compel them to feed children who desperately need one meal a day, who have no source of food other than the school feeding scheme.

Learners’ affidavits, particularly, make for stomach-churning reading, but it is important to read their stories to try to understand the lived realities of people in small, off-the-map, far-flung villages in South Africa. People, even worse children, going hungry in South Africa is unforgivable. It is also important to pay tribute to the bravery of teachers, parents, school governing bodies and learners who are speaking out despite being fearful of intimidation and losing their jobs.

We publish extracts from 15 affidavits and even though these documents will become public in the courts, SECTION27 and EELC requested that we do not identify their clients by name for fear of intimidation.

Affidavit 15

Bongi (not real name), 17, lives in Daveyton, Gauteng and is a Grade 10 learner at HB Nyathi High School. There are five (5) people living in her household, including two of her siblings who also attend school. One of her sisters is 12 years old and attends Grade 7 at Katlego Primary School. Her other sister is 16 years old and in Grade 10 at Hulwazi High School.

‘The food we have does not last us to the end of the month.’

“Before school closures commenced due to the national lockdown, I received two cooked meals per day through the NSNP. Since my school closed for the national lockdown, I have not received any meals through the NSNP.

“We do not have enough food in our house. The food we have does not last us to the end of the month. This is difficult and does not sit well with me. I do try to overcome these difficulties and continue learning.

“I do want my school to provide the feeding scheme to us even if only some grades have returned. I will collect food from school if it was an option.
It is unfair that some children will be able to benefit and others will not be able to. Some children in other families rely greatly on the meals provided at school. Some of the learners who benefited, their parents are no longer working and need the feeding scheme now more than ever.” DM/MC

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