On July 10, protests erupted in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, after former president Jacob Zuma was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment on contempt (being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law) by defying an order to appear before of a corruption enquiry. The protests quickly turned violent; spiralling out of control and resulting in mass looting, destruction and a rising death toll. As current president Cyril Ramaphosa calls for unity in the aftermath of the week-long chaos and riots, those of us outside South Africa are left wondering how and what we can do to help.
During times of unrest and crisis, it is important to ensure you are taking the time to do the necessary and correct research and learning. It can be easy to rely on the information and opinions of others that you see on social media, or hear from your inner circle. But, given that this is a situation that is occurring outside of Australia, it's vital to keep your reading as widespread and informed as possible. Some resources you can turn to include this concise video explainer by the BBC, this news broadcast from ABC journalist, Geraldine Doogue, and ongoing reporting by AP News. There are endless resources available, the idea is to stay informed across multiple platforms.
Donate to Gift of the Givers
On July 15, the Gift of the Givers foundation announced its official proposal for action to assist those impacted by the riots in South Africa. The foundation is the largest disaster response, non-governmental organisation of African origin on the African continent.
One of the main resource areas impacted by the riots has been food supply; both through the knock-on effect the riots have had on major trading ports and distribution avenues and the violent and ongoing looting of essential businesses and services. In response to this, Gift of the Givers announced that its main priority is "to protect large-scale food distribution facilities"; to help rebuild and support the supply chain.
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In a thread of Twitter posts, the foundation issued a rallying cry of support; sharing their concern and plans and advising people of the safest way to help. Which, is to donate to the foundation if you can, "to protect 'full' warehouses from being targeted..."
The @GiftoftheGivers is already helping in #KZN and other parts of SA destroyed by #UnrestSA. If you want to assist them, see here how to get involved. Also read if you need to be reminded of the good people in SA. Please RT widely. Let's #UniteAndProtectSA #StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/MSpbmF6mr1
— OUTA (@OUTASA) July 15, 2021
Gift of the Givers has begun its mission to provide people in KwaZulu-Natal – one of the most heavily impacted areas – with food parcels and medicines. You can find out more on how to donate and support the organisation on their website. If you are unable to support financially, you can help spread awareness by sharing the foundations social media posts and messaging with others.
Support the Acorn Foundation
The Acorn Foundation – an organisation dedicated to providing care and nurture to vulnerable children and families – announced it has successfully sent consignments of baby formula and diapers to mothers across KwaZulu-Natal, with plans to reach vulnerable families in Gauteng next. With the ongoing looting and violence, many families have been left without access to essential baby supplies.
"The response from the public is incredible. People are donating towards nappies and baby formula for mothers in need. We have dropped off consignments in Pietermaritzburg, Durban. Today, another batch is leaving for the Virginia airport in KwaZulu-Natal and another will be leaving for Margate on Sunday," shared Sue Smit, CEO of the Acorn Foundation.
You can find more details on how to support families in need on the foundations website.
Create awareness and support locally
If you aren't in a position to assist financially, helping to raise awareness around the situation and share useful information is just as beneficial. Social media can be an excellent tool when used purposefully, and not all users will have access or would have interacted with the same information you have. Start a conversation with a friend, share an infographic, connect and speak to those most impacted and share their stories.
It's also important to keep in mind fellow Australians or South African expats who may feel uncertain or frightened during this time for their families or hometowns. Never underestimate the power of a check-in, or Facetime call with a friend, colleague or community member.