2 November 2022 – The initiative whereby the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) have joined forces with Business and Labour to donate tons of seized clothing, blankets, and footwear to flood victims in Kwa-Zulu Natal, has entered its second phase. This entails the donation of clothing and footwear to the flood victims.
The initiative, dubbed Project Sizani (We all Help), took shape after the declaration of a state of disaster by Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa in response to the flooding in KZN during April this year, which wreaked havoc in this province, killing over 400 people and destroying over 8 500 houses. Some parts of the Eastern Cape, North West and Free State provinces also experienced devastation due to the April flooding.
“Whilst the project is aimed at minimising the material impact of the affected people, it is also intended to restore dignity to those who were left almost naked by the disaster. Humanity is what drives this gesture more than anything else,” says Mr. Patrick Moeng, Executive: Focused Investigative Audit Unit: Syndicated Tax and Customs Crime Division at SARS, and leader of Project Sizani.
The initiative involves the distribution of some of the millions of tons of goods from the clothing, textile, footwear and leather industries (CTFL) that had been seized by SARS since 2018, which otherwise would have been destroyed in accordance with the Customs Act, Act 91 of 1964, administered by SARS, as well as a 2009 and 2020 NEDLAC agreement, stipulating that seized goods must be destroyed so as to avoid disruption to the South African market.
During the first phase, which started in June this year, the donation of blankets commenced in KZN, due to the urgent need after the April floods, where hundreds of flood survivors are still living in community halls (shelters).
The second phase comprises the donation of clothing and footwear to flood victims identified in the various district municipalities of the KZN, EC and NW provinces. It is a much more intricate process, due to the due diligence that has to be conducted for each item to be donated.
A Governance Task Team (GTT) which comprises members from SARS, the dtic, Organised Labour and the CTFL industry is responsible for the execution of the project, although other role players that play an instrumental part in the execution of the project are the National Disaster Management Committee (NDMC), the Department of Social Development (DSD), and the Offices of the various Premiers in the impacted provinces. In addition, the involvement of Business and Labour , as key stakeholders, is necessary in every step of the project, to monitor the processes and ensure any risks that may harm the local business are mitigated.
To date, more than 28 000 blankets had been delivered to specific individuals at approximately 174 sites in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
The KZN phase 1 (blanket distribution) pilot paved the way for the roll-out of the second phase of the project: an even more intricate and tightly controlled process as the footwear and clothing items are wrapped in individual packages for specific individuals in specific shelters before they are handed over for distribution.
This second phase of the project is currently underway in KZN after a pilot at the two smaller shelters in Inanda and one in La Mercy offered a chance to develop and refine the process even further.
According to Mr. Moeng, 25 698 items of clothing have so far been donated to the first 31 of 74 sites in KZN. The packing, sorting and distribution to shelters continues to take place as more shipments of seized clothing arrive from Gauteng, courtesy of many shipping lines who extended their hand of goodwill to assist in transporting the containers of seized items to different parts of the country where the need has been identified.
The project is earmarked to be concluded at the end of November 2022 with North West and Eastern Cape following on the footsteps of KZN.
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