Covid-19

Child Hunger

‘Sometimes I get stressed and frustrated’

‘Sometimes I get stressed and frustrated’
A mother holds her child during a community feeding program in Ocean View, Cape Town, South Africa, 13 April 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA)

Vuyokazi, 17, lives in Gauteng and is a Grade 12 learner at JB Matabane Secondary School situated in Tembisa. She lives with her parents and sibling, a 14-year-old Grade 9 learner, also attending JB Matabane Secondary 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 14

Vuyokazi, 17, lives in Gauteng and is a Grade 12 learner at JB Matabane Secondary School situated in Tembisa. She lives with her parents and sibling, a 14-year-old Grade 9 learner, also attending JB Matabane Secondary School.

‘I do not have enough data for online learning. We have to use the money to buy food instead of data.’

“Before school closures commenced on 18 March 2020, I was receiving two meals per day (breakfast and lunch) through my school’s feeding scheme.
On 18 March 2020, my school (and all other schools in South Africa) had been closed. Since then I have not received any meals through the NSNP. I have not been receiving food parcels either from the government or a non-governmental organisation.

Even though myself and one of my siblings are recipients of Child Support Grant, my family and I do not have enough food at home. Sometimes I get stressed and frustrated. I think that I might need to get a job to provide for my family. This will impact on my studies but I will have to make time. I am in Grade 12 so it will be difficult. My little sister is in Grade 9 and she just gave up on studying.

I try to do schoolwork at home but it is difficult. I do not have enough data for online learning. We have to use the money to buy food instead of data.
On Monday, 8 June 2020, my school reopened and classes started for Grade 12’s. The school is providing school meals only for learners who returned to school. We are receiving two meals, for breakfast and lunch, daily.

I feel bad for the learners, like my younger sister, who are currently not receiving their food through the school feeding scheme because they are not yet phased in. The government must also think about those learners at home. I feel bad because I am receiving meals at school while my younger sister is still struggling at home. It is not right.” DM/MC

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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