Outcry Over Soup Kitchen Closure

About 1 600 people in Chitungwiza that were relying on a soup kitchen run by a good Samaritan from her home were yesterday left stranded after council closed it down.

Council closed down Ms Samantha Muzokori’s kitchen in Unit A, Chitungwiza because it was not registered with it and the Department of Social Welfare.

The kitchen which relied on volunteers was offering porridge to kids from as early as 5am and supper for all age groups.

Only those wearing face masks were being served at the kitchen, while compulsory sanitisation and social distancing was enforced by dedicated volunteers.

The people were served at different intervals of 30 minutes per group to avoid crowding.

Donors were also assisting with various items including food stuffs, daily water deliveries, funds, sanitisers and face masks.

Acting Chitungwiza town clerk, Dr Tonderai Kasu yesterday issued a statement on the closure of the kitchen.

“Reference is made to the public outcry following the issuance by the municipality of a notice to Ms Samantha Muzokori of stand number 20926 Unit A Chitungwiza who has been operating a kitchen outlet serving vulnerable members of the community,” read the statement.

“We would like to thank Ms Muzoroki for the love and care that she has displayed for the affected members when the nation is currently under lockdown. However, the order for Ms Muzoroki to cease operations was made on the basis of some genuine and legitimate concerns with respect to public health and public safety.”

He said the operations were in contravention of the Public Health Act of Zimbabwe.

He urged people who wanted to engage in charity activities during this period to approach council for proper guidance.

Ms Muzoroki said she started the soup kitchen with only 24 people from her neighbourhood after she noted the difficulties that some people were facing during the lockdown.

“I started the initiative after realisation that most people in the area are in the informal sector and were failing to have at least a meal per day.

“It has been 35 days since we started and the number of people have been growing by the day as of Wednesday we had a record 1 600 people that came for supper. To avoid crowding we had a database with addresses and numbers of family members per each household so each family sent a representative to collect their food.”

Ms Muzokori’s partner, Mr Masimba Marangwanda said they were in agreement with Chitungwiza that by-laws should be followed and they have started the regularisation process.

“However, our request is that can we be allowed to temporarily operate while processing our papers because in this morning we had to take a difficult decision to turn away children who had come for porridge.

“If possible they can send a health worker to supervise us,” he said.

Chitungwiza Residents Trust director Ms Alice Kuveya said the kitchen must be allowed to operate while regularisation is taking place.

“We are actually surprised, that Samantha has been giving residents food from her house for over a month and council is only raising concerns now,” she said.

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