Office of the speaker probes Ward 23 food parcel spat

Ward 23 councillor Nora Grose has been accused of unfairly distributing food parcels, such as the one pictured, in Olive Close.

The office of the speaker is investigating a complaint against Ward 23 councillor Nora Grose who has been accused of unfairly distributing food parcels, but the councillor says she just wants to feed the hungry.

On Thursday April 23, the chairman of Melkbosch Village Owners Association Richard Abrahams, at the request of the Olive Close Home Owners Association trustees, sent a letter to Ms Grose about what he called her “decisively destructive operations” in the Olive Close community of some 500 people in Melkbosstrand.

The letter calls for Ms Grose to be declared a persona non grata in the area and accuses her of distributing food parcels without “co-ordination or consideration of the dignity” of the Olive Close residents.

“It appears that you are purposefully instigating conflict and discontent among the residents by your biased patronage of a select few, with the distribution of your food parcels,” said Mr Abrahams.

“When the residents of Olive Close start fighting among themselves, it may spill over into the rest of the Melkbosch Village where there are six other complexes around Olive Close.

“The properties in adjoining complexes are soft targets for folks who decide to riot. There is only one entrance and exit to the entire village of seven complexes,” he said.

Olive Close Home Owners Association chairman Hendrick Sackson said Ms Grose had ignored his requests to work together to distribute the parcels.

“The trustees work well with the CPF, churches and non-profits like TLC who has delivered food parcels for every household in Olive Close. It is only councillor Grose who is causing a divide in the community by only handing parcels out to certain people. It causes conflict. She is undermining the trustees and showing them utter disrespect,” said Mr Sackson.

Instead of getting the trustees to hand out the food parcels, Ms Grose had given them to a single resident, resulting in only a select few getting food, he said.

However, Ms Grose said she was distributing the food parcels in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the City. She said she had been working with faith-based groups and non-profits to distribute food in various areas, such as Duynefontein, Van Riebeeckstrand and Melkbosstand. There was a list of people chosen for parcels and they had to sign for them, she said.

The woman she was using to distribute the 30-odd parcels was someone she had worked with before in the community, she said.

“She couldn’t choose who to give to. She had to go according to the list,” Ms Grose said.

Mr Abrahams called for the councillor to stay away from Olive Close and to direct the food programmes through Mr Sackson and his fellow trustees.

Ms Grose said she was not working through the trustees of other areas either when delivering food parcels.

“Since when must we at this time of lockdown be controlled by committee members with regards to the handing out of food parcels?

“People do not have a right to demand food. This is a private initiative that seeks to identify people who are going hungry during this time. My role is merely to identify the need and see how we can assist people during this time.”

City of Cape Town speaker Dirk Smit said his office had received a complaint about Ms Grose.

“The matter is currently being investigated by my office accordingly.”

He declined to comment further, saying: “The office of the speaker views all disciplinary matters as being privileged and confidential in terms of the applicable legislation, as councillors have a right to confidentiality, similar to practice in all disciplinary matters and proceedings.”