By Sidima Mfeku
Port Elizabeth – Vuka Youth Empowerment Movement leader Sicelo Jantjies fears that people from his area might label him as a criminal and scammer. This comes after a voice note circulated on social media accusing his organisation of collecting money from local spaza shops in Walmer with the impression that the money would be used to employ the youth.
The sound clip was spiked by rumours around the community that various foreign spaza shops were to close down as this organisation was collecting money from them (foreign spaza shops).
In the voice note a lady can be heard saying “Foreign shops are closing down because there is a youth group called Vuka that is collecting R1500 monthly so they (foreign spaza shop owners) are now feeling abused because they don’t know where the money is going, and the owners said they spoke to the group and told the group that they do not want to hire black people in their shops, so they are now closing until they find a solution to this”
The youth movement had proposed to the municipality that young people from Walmer should conduct food inspection raids at various shops in the community and be compensated R1500 monthly, the money would have been collected from the various shop owners in the area.
Jantjies said none of this money was collected and “no item on the proposal has been attempted, it all was a plan in paper”.
The proposal comes after public health and environmental health departments in the Nelson Mandela Bay failed to carry out the food inspection raids at local spaza shops in the area.
The plan was disapproved and scrapped by the municipality and the various stakeholders it has been proposed to on the basis that only qualified practitioners can conduct food inspections.
“with regards to the food safety industry, a person cannot just go and inspect food establishments, it is a technical field that requires training and a qualification and therefore qualified practitioners can be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa” Director of the Environmental health in Nelson Mandela Bay Dr Patrick Nodwele, said.
However, the decisions not to take up the youth movement’s proposal had not been communicated with the community and resulted in the misinformation shared among the Walmer community.
Dr Nodwele further maintained that food inspections have been carried out in Walmer on routine basis by environmental health practitioner Dirk Styn, and that the deployment of the general youth is unnecessary for this particular project.
He said, “Food inspections in walmer facilities are happening we have never suspended our services in Walmer and councillor Tyokwana is fully aware that we have a health practitioner in that Walmer”.
Responding to the misinformation in his community, councillor Tyokwana said “I am fully aware of the proposal, but I am sure that there is a misunderstanding in terms of the shops paying out 1500 to the organisation. The organisation did away with the R1500 in the proposal, no one has collected any cent from anyone.”
He said the proposal was scrapped because the shops did not agree with the financial recommendations of the proposal, and they could not conclude on the employment aspect of the proposal due to the inability of the shops to meet the standards of the newly passed wage bill.
Moreover, Tyokwana refuted claims by the Environmental practitioner Dr Nodwele that any inspections had been conducted in his ward.
“They have never conducted them (shop inspections) in Walmer as the municipality, because everything the municipality does goes through the councillor’s office”
He said in the two years he’s been serving as councillor in ward 4 he has never heard from municipality about inspections in his area.
“it is only the new political head councillor Pali who has done it in Kostern and other shops that have been mentioned in The Herald other than that we know nothing of inspections here”
He said “He is lying, if the directorate is doing inspections, it should be done in conjunction with the councillors office as well as the committee of the shops and also the general ward committee. We are supposed to know as the people who are around here, they never conducted inspections in my term, maybe they did 10 years ago.”
Furthermore, Tyokwana said he hopes that the municipality fast tracks everything and conduct these inspections soon, so that the community can live a clean and healthy life.