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No, South African police did not confiscate food donated to white people

South African police confiscated 200 food parcels that a church had donated to a community of white people, claims a Facebook post from 4 May 2020.

“This story below ... details 200 food parcels that were donated by a church to Bonnacord White squatter camp,” it says. “When they went to deliver the drastically needed supplies, the police swooped in and, before they could even unload the food parcels, CONFISCATED THE LOT ! The reason? NO DONATIONS ALLOWED FOR WHITES!”

The post shows three photos of children, two of them extremely emaciated. The implication is that the children are white South Africans living in an informal settlement near the suburb of Bon Accord in the city of Pretoria. 

The post has been shared more than 1,900 times.

South Africa is currently under lockdown to control the Covid-19 outbreak. Except for essential workers, people are only allowed to leave their homes “under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant”. 

A gradual easing of restrictions started on 1 May. 

The lockdown means thousands of people have and are still likely to lose their jobs. The government has launched social relief measures to help people through the lockdown, including food parcels and R350 grants for the unemployed. 

Private citizens and non-profit organisations have also begun relief initiatives, such as distributing food parcels, to help people hurt by the lockdown. 

But did South African police stop a church from donating to a poor community and confiscate their food parcels because the residents were white? We checked.

Photos from Syria and US

None of the post’s three photos were taken in South Africa.

The first photo, of a child in pink, was taken in Syria in 2016 by a photographer for the UN Children’s Fund. The agency published it in a series of photos drawing attention to the impact the Syrian civil war was having on children. 

The second photo, showing a thin boy sitting in mud, was published on a blog in 2016. The child is from the US and his mother posted the photo in a post on why her children were healthy despite looking thin. 

The third photo, also of a thin boy, is from a 2014 child abuse case in the US. The boy’s mother was sentenced to 28 years in prison for starving her son, who was discovered after one of his brothers reported the case to the police. 

Post ‘incorrect, misleading’, says DA politician

Adriana Randall, a member of the Gauteng provincial legislature from the Democratic Alliance opposition party, reportedly condemned the Facebook post as false. 

“This post is incorrect, misleading, racist, slanderous and the person who posted it on a public platform is spreading fake news,” she told the Pretoria North Record, a community newspaper. 

Randall told Africa Check that she went with the donor to a police station because they were going to be escorted by police officers to drop off the food parcels at the informal settlement. 

Randall said the police officers told the donor she needed to obtain a permit from the municipality before she would be allowed to donate food parcels in the area. 

“The police never confiscated the goods and they never said we are not allowed to give food to white people.” – Naledi Mashishi


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