Pupils go hungry as food delivery disruptions affect 27 Limpopo schools
Last month, children from Bantwane Primary School had to be sent home because food wasn’t delivered.
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Dozens of schools in Moutse East Circuit, outside Groblersdal in the Sekhukhune region of Limpopo, have been learning on empty stomachs for weeks because the truck delivering food failed to arrive.
Some of the schools affected include Thabakhubedu primary in Ntoane Dennilton, Mothibedi primary, Nala secondary and Fawcett Mathebe secondary, to mention but a few.
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday, treasurer for the school governing body (SGB) at Thabakgubedu, David Manyaka, said the situation was dire. A total of 27 schools are allegedly affected by the nondelivery of this basic human need.
“It is always painful to see your children going through the day without food at lunch time. Some of these kids are from impoverished families,” said Manyaka.
“For the past three weeks, you could see who comes from which family by mere looking at their faces during lunch time.”
He said because of the situation, the SGB, working hand-in-glove with the teachers, had to seek guidance from the circuit office on how to handle the situation.
“This is because some of these children were no longer concentrating during lessons. Fortunately, the circuit advised we can use money for norms and standards until the situation is normalised. It, however, promised to pay back the money,” he said.
In a letter seen by The Citizen, the circuit manager, only listed as Mr Malatsi LK, tried to save the situation.
“Our office has been informed that YBG company has failed to deliver the food. The matter is receiving attention. Please improvise accordingly to help the (pupils) with meals,” the letter said in part.
“If needs be, use norms and standards to provide the basics. Should a need arise that you need support from parents, please inform and appeal to them verbally.”
The nondelivery of food has since set tongues wagging in the region, with politicians casting doubt on the competency of the companies contracted by the Limpopo basic education department to deliver food to the schools.
“Last month, children from Bantwane Primary School had to be sent home because food wasn’t delivered. We were told that the truck transporting the food was hijacked,” Seun Mogotji, the general secretary of the Bolsheviks party of South Africa, said yesterday.
Mogotji is also a community leader in the same circuit where the affected schools are. His children and grandchildren are also allegedly affected by the situation. Mogotji said the department must put its house in order.
“What baffles us the most is that the entire circuit is dependent on food from the Vhembe region, where the MEC comes from. Does this mean there are no capable service providers in this region?” asked Mogotji.
“What informs the department to bring in soya beans and cabbage from the Vhembe region. Does this mean the people of Moutse are so intellectually challenged and not capable of delivering mere food parcels.
“I mean, these trucks travel for about 400km from Thohoyandou to deliver food parcels to our schools in the bordering town of Groblersdal between Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
“If the department has the interest of our children at heart, it can instead appoint local companies and drive about 50km or less,” said Mogotji.
The department was not available for comment at the time of going to print as spokesperson Mike Maringa did not respond to a text message or calls.
In a Thobela FM radio interview yesterday, however, Maringa said the department was working on the matter and that food would be delivered to the affected schools in no time.
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