Minister Fernandez welcomes SAHRC pronouncement | Western Cape Government

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Minister Fernandez welcomes SAHRC pronouncement

21 May 2020

The Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez welcomes the statement on ENCA by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that any attempt by government to block food provision for those in dire need, is a human rights violation.

Minister Fernandez said: “I wish to re-iterate that the draft directions in its current form will have major negative unintended consequences for any non-governmental organization(NGO), private donor or any civil society organisations wanting to distribute food relief to vulnerable people in society.”

Minister Fernandez added: “It is in the public’s best interest that the directions adopted are clear and practical, so that food aid can reach the people who are in most need. Thus, we are already seeing the food efforts of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) being shut down, although they follow all of the COVID 19 health protocols. It is important to note that we do remain concerned about some of the other requirements highlighted in the proposed draft directions besides the ban on cooked food.” 

These concerns include, amongst others:

  • The requirement that provincial departments of Social Development issue permits to all NGOs that wish to provide food aid would be virtually impossible to implement since there are tens of thousands of organisations and private individuals in neighbourhoods in every province of this country. This is likely to lead to delays in food distribution.
  • The South African Police Service does not have the capacity to be involved in every food provision operation in the province, as their workforce too has been affected by COVID 19, impacting the number of officers on duty at any one time. This will further displace policing capacity into an area which will not significantly assist with the reduction of COVID transmission, while queue management at shops, SASSA, Public Transport Interchanges and Labour Offices is a far higher risk and priority.
  • The requirement that all food be delivered door-to-door beneficiaries, is outside of the logistical capability of many smaller NGOs and neighbourhood feeding schemes - the capacity of the State and NGO sector to deliver food parcels door-to-door is limited and not necessarily geared for rapid distribution.

“We need directions that are clear and easily understandable by all people living in the Western Cape.  Ultimately, the better we are at following clear and easily understandable rules and regulations around lockdown –– the less likely we are to return to a hard lockdown,” concluded Minister Fernandez.