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FoodForward SA to resume operations on Friday after R8m worth of losses from looting and vandalism

Aid group FoodForward SA will need R8-million as it resumes operations on Friday 16 July at its Durban food bank, which was ransacked and looted earlier this week, leaving 125 000 people without food.

“We are resuming operations in Durban and Johannesburg … with armed guards on site, and accompanying our vehicles for collections and deliveries,” FoodFoward SA managing director Andy du Plessis told the Mail & Guardian.

“Fortunately, no other branches have been looted to date. Our Johannesburg branch is closed but will reopen tomorrow,” he said.

The organisation, which works to reduce hunger by providing quality food to those in need, requires R350 000 to repair the damaged warehouse, as well as two trucks worth R1.2-million each and R1.5-million to replace furniture and equipment. It also needs R725 000 for computers for staff and interns, and to cover the cost of hiring temporary private security and for inter branch transfers. 

Two of its partners have already donated towards the rebuilding efforts, with one offering a truck while the other will provide private security services for FoodForward SA’s Johannesburg and Durban branches. 

Du Plessis said the aid group would not be deterred from its work even after its Durban warehouse was swept clean by looters. It was helping register 150 benefit organisations (BOs) in KwaZulu-Natal and 25 in the Free State, he said.

“Through these BOs we feed 125 000 people daily. This means that 125 000 vulnerable people are currently directly affected by the closure of our Durban branch,” Du Plessis said.

“We have seven permanent staff members working at our Durban branch. Fortunately, the closure of the branch does not affect their employment status. While we were closed, so were the beneficiary organisations that we support. We will resume operations and get as much food out in the coming days as food insecurity will no doubt increase,” he added.

In addition to donations in kind, FoodFoward SA also collects good quality surplus food from manufacturers and retailers including Premier Foods, Tiger Brands, Kelloggs, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Pioneer and Standard Bank’s OneFarmShare.   

The organisation, which has been in existence for 12 years, serves 1 250 registered  organisations around South Africa, including old age homes, homeless people shelters, centres for abused women, orphanages and healthcare facilities, providing food for 650 000 people on a daily basis, according to Du Plessis. 

Besides Durban and Johannesburg, FoodForward SA also has branches in Gqebera, Cape Town and Rustenburg. Plans have been underway to open a new warehouse in Polokwane this month, followed by another in the Free State in August.

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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