The rising price of basic foods is worsening South Africa's food security crisis which could increase social instability and spark a repeat of the devastating July unrest.
Food Forward South Africa an organization addressing hunger in poor communities says per month 30 million people in the country are experiencing food insecurity.
"We are in a food security crisis in South Africa and we are finding people presenting with malnutrition. In the Eastern Cape, 12 children died of starvation and we will find more incidents like that as the country starts to manifest. We are also seeing opportunistic crime as a result. Our concern is that the July 2021 riots that spiraled out of control and if we do not get inflation under control, if we do no address food security, we will be in a very difficult time as a country," said Andy Du Plessis Food Forward SA Managing Director
South African consumer inflation surged to a 13-year high last month mainly driven by rising transport and food prices. The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group’s latest Household Affordability Index shows that the average household basic food costs approximately 270 US dollars per month. Mervyn Abrahams Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Programme Coordinator said the basic foods are cooking oil, maize meal and cake flour.
" When we compare our basket to last year and this year and compare some of the items in the food basket, we would see that staples such as maize meal has increased by about 11%, flour by 24 %, five liter of cooking oil increased by about 69%, brown bread by about 15%." said Abrahams
On the ground, consumers are saying their pockets cannot sustain their livelihoods.
"Food prices have skyrocketed so much that we can't keep up. You send your child to the shop and they come back informing you that the store owners are charging more," said Bonginkosi Zondo, a consumer who sells potatoes in Randburg Square, Johannesburg
"It is really shocking how food has gone up. What has made it worse is the Covid-19 pandemic. People lost their jobs during this period. This current economic climate is the reason one of the July unrest in Durban. We need to go back to planting our own food, " expressed Sipho Zungu, a consumer who sells traditional medicine in Johannesburg.