‘My family fights a lot over bread’
Mbali (not real name), 17, lives in Kingsway, a township in Gauteng, and is a Grade 11 learner at Lesiba Secondary School situated in Daveyton.
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.
Mbali, 17, lives in Kingsway, a township in Gauteng, and is a Grade 11 learner at Lesiba Secondary School situated in Daveyton.
‘It is also affecting my siblings, especially my younger brother who will cry when he does not have food to eat.’
“I live with my parents and my siblings of which two of them are learners attending Kingsway Intermediate School and Kingsway Secondary School, respectively. Before school closures commenced under the national lockdown, my school was offering daily meals and I received one meal (lunch) per day.
“Since my school closed, I have not received any meals through the NSNP. I have not been receiving food parcels from the government. However, my family has once received a food parcel from a non-governmental organisation. The food lasted for about a week.
“My two siblings and I are the recipients of the Child Support Grant. However, my family and I do not have enough food at home. Not having enough food at home makes it more difficult for me to study. It is also affecting my siblings, especially my younger brother who will cry when he does not have food to eat. My family fights a lot over bread and necessities. My siblings will cry and fight with each other. This impacts me emotionally.
“It is very hard to study at home with all the fighting and having to take care of my siblings. It is difficult to study on my own. Whenever I have data I can access online resources but it doesn’t really help. I therefore want my school to provide me with food through the school feeding scheme.” DM/MC
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