Team effort provides much needed relief to Knysna’s needy

Knysna Municipality provided over 1 500 food parcels to the most vulnerable members of the community over the weekend of 24-26 April. “This was largely made possible by a contribution of R550 000 from the Western Cape Department of Local Government,” said acting Municipal Manager Dr Michele Gratz.

“This highlights the importance of strong intergovernmental relations,” she said. “Just as important are partnerships with the private sector. Thank you to South African National Parks, Allsound Security and Gap Security for providing vehicles for delivery. And thank you to the South African Police Service for seeing to it that our relief packages reached those it needed to – safely.”

“We strongly condemn the incident that took place on Friday 24 April, when criminals attacked and robbed a vehicle transporting food relief parcels in Nekkies,” she said. “This selfish act caused many families to go hungry and seriously frightened our female driver. We will not tolerate any criminal activity in this regard. If you steal aid, or buy food parcels from criminals, you are taking the food out of the mouths of hungry families.”

Many people are involved in the smooth running of the municipality’s Humanitarian and Social Relief Programme. “Thank you to our 15 call centre operators who worked extremely long hours over the weekend, contacting applicants and capturing data,” said Gratz. “And thank you to the packing team – mostly made up of volunteers – for ensuring that the parcels were correctly packed and ready for distribution.”

Once deliveries have been allocated within a specific area, a specialised mobile application sends the list of recipients to the driver’s cell phone. It maps the delivery route and specifies a Google location pin for each delivery address. Once a delivery has been completed, a photograph is taken as proof and submitted to the app, which collates all relevant information and logs the case as completed. Not only does this provide proof of applicants receiving allocated relief, it also assists in preventing duplicate deliveries.

“Thank you once again for all donations received to date,” she said. “It continues to amaze me how Knysna’s people pull together during tough times. I must ask you to help us if you can. Any donation will help – what might seem like the least you could do, might help us to feed a family.”

The municipality is still inviting applications to the programme. “We will, unfortunately, not be able to assist everyone,” Dr Gratz continued. “Strict qualifying criteria will apply and, in an effort to reach those who truly have no other source of assistance, SASSA grant and UIF recipients are excluded from the programme.”

“I ask all prospective applicants to be honest when requesting aid,” Dr Gratz urged. “Food relief products are limited and are intended for those most in need. We have unfortunately discovered that, in some cases, multiple family members from the same household apply for aid, or applicants submit more than one application using others’ residential addresses. This dishonesty and selfishness will not be to your benefit.”

There are stringent qualifying criteria and vetting procedures in place. “It is very important to note that there is no possibility of any councillor, officer or member of the administration benefiting from this programme,” she confirmed. “These strict methods also ensure that every application is treated the same way and on its own merit. Food parcels are only signed off for delivery after every box has been ticked. Rumours of councillors or officials helping their friends first are totally unfounded and must be stopped from spreading. These untruths only serve to cause more unnecessary unhappiness in an already difficult time.”

“This is a disaster that will have an effect on each and every one of us, on different levels,” Dr Gratz concluded. “Please, try to remain positive and try to help where you can. We must stand together because we are in this together. And that is how we’ll emerge from this crisis – together.”

To apply to the Humanitarian and Social Relief Programme:

SMS the word “Aid” to 31022;
register at https://knysna.comunity.me/relief/relief.html; or
make use of the new functionality on the Knysna Municipality mobile application.