19 April at 08:20 ·
Re the looting of flood relief by Ethekwini (City of Durban) officials..
Ward 36 councillor Chantal de Boer responds to Ethekwini’s claims .
To whom it may concern.
Many of you may have seen a viral video doing the rounds about a confrontation at Virginia Airpprt on Monday concerning food parcels.
For sake of clarity, please allow me to clarify some details.
At the outset of the disaster, there was a general mobilization of community members, local businesses and ward
committee members to help those affected. The members of the Durban North Residents association was part of
The initial need was to assist the Briardene settlement in Ward 36; where I am the Ward Councillor.
Several local drop off points were established and donations poured in. I am pleased to say that several large
drop offs of much needed food, blankets and associated items were done to Briardene. Additionally, the Malacca
Road settlement was also assisted by donations.
During the week, there was a call to assist the Search and rescue teams based at Virginia Airport.
Again, local restaurants, supermarkets and donors responded with much love and generosity. Hot meals, snack
packs and water together with essentials such as boots, gloves, wipes and socks were donated to the rescue
Part of this effort was to put together emergency relief packs used by rescuers. Consisting of energy drinks,
water and other high protein snacks – these packs were used by rescuers on a daily basis. Both to bolster
themselves and victims they encounter in their rescue operations. These rescue operations are across the
greater Durban KZN region.
Rescue packs with these food items were donated by local residents and businesses. Further more, veterinary
care was supplied to the rescue dogs.
A team of local ladies took it upon themselves to help pack and sort the items into rescue packs at Virginia
Airport in shift systems. They have given tirelessly of their effort and time.
On Monday, several people arrived at the area where these rescue packs were being prepared. They arrived in
NDM marked vehicles, indicating they are ethekwini municipal vehicles.
At some stage during the day, one or more staff members were seen opening and eating from the prepared
Needless to say, the volunteers queried this conduct and expressed their concern. Not long after, the same
officials brought a truck (NDM vehicle) and started loading the rescue packs into the vehicles.
This obviously caused serious alarm for volunteers who questioned the officials as to their intentions, where the
parcels were being taken and on whose authority. The officials allegedly failed to provide adequate answers to
the community volunteers. A call was then placed to, chairwoman of the Durban North residents association.
This is the lady seen on the video, remonsyrating with the officials.
Some salient yet important facts in this incident must be investigated. Given that these are community and
business donations, accountability as to what happens to and with those donations is critically important.
1. Why were officials instructed to enter into what is essentially private property and simply load up donations
specifically earmarked for use by rescue crews?
2. On whose authority were the officials instructed to travel to Virginia Airport and load up these donations?
3. If the officials were genuinely there to collect some other donations, why did they not make some simple
enquiries as to where those donations may be?
4. If indeed the municipality believes the rescue packs "belong" to the city – why did they return them? Perhaps it
was a case of miscommunication. But surely courteous dialog from the outset would have helped establish what
belongs to who.
5. Under what authority or law can municipal officials simply walk into any area and commandeer food
donations? This is indeed a serious question. If the city is emboldened to do this once; what stops it from simply
commandeering food and donations from NGOs, religious organizations and the like?
The whole incident has been escalated to our most senior people, including Members of both the Provincial
Legislature and Parliament.
The eThekwini Municipality has quickly responded by defending the staff concerned. But fail to answer the above
Perhaps saddest of all, is that municipality staff summoned Saps members to assist them in packing and leaving
Virginia Airport. Saps members were in essence helping eThekwini remove aid from people on the ground being
supported by SAPS Search and Rescue members. The video clearly shows an Saps vehicle loaded with
There are still many questions and answers that need to be ventilated in this matter. It wont be left to go away.
Treating people’s donations with respect is a priority. Supporting those who brave death of a daily basis is a
As one of the people who called on people to donate – it is incumbent on me to get to the bottom of it. This issue
will not swept under the carpet.
This just about sums it up…..
I have just asked ward councillor de Boer the following questions:
"Are there any warehouses under Ethekwini (City of Durban) or government control where the flood relief
donations are transported for sorting and distribution?
This is something that needs investigation.
Is there any oversight?"
"No warehouses no relief for distribution except for community assistance."
Hold your government accountable.