South Africa’s wine trade rallies support for the vulnerable

Friday, 24 April, 2020
The Buyer, Richard Siddle
At a time when we are looking to help others not only in our own communities but around the country and the world, our minds turn to the situation in South Africa where the impact on the country’s on-going lockdown is having a dire impact on already vulnerable communities who are now running out of food and supplies and desperately need help.

Here’s how you can get involved and show your support.

The South African wine community is coming together to galvanise international support to help vulnerable communities caught up in the country’s national lockdown with two key initiatives championed by the wine industry’s, Bruce Jack and Ross Sleet. 

South African wine producer Bruce Jack has a way with words that make you sit up and take notice. So when he says many communities in South Africa face a “socio-economic disaster” as a result of the country’s national lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 it puts many of the issues we are tackling with in our own communities in stark contrast.

“Already poor, the shutdown has completely shut off all financial in-flows and people here are desperately hungry,” Jack told The Buyer this week.

He is looking to play his part by working with local government bodies to help raise money through his existing Headstart Charitable Trust, that he already runs to support families in his local community.

He is also now calling on the wider wine industry to see what they can also do to help support and donate much needed money to help the poor of South Africa at this time.

He explained: “There are a myriad issues which have led to this situation, including our area being previously disregarded in terms of relief measures and the unusually high level of piecemeal workers that live hand-to-mouth of a daily and weekly basis. These workers have had no income since the shutdown. The promised government relief packages are incredibly difficult to access for these people.

He added: “Farmers are coming to the rescue. Soup kitchens have been established in rural villages and storage facilities made available…but we need food. Our Charitable Trust has been asked by elected representatives, farmers and religious leaders to help coordinate financial donations and food collections and food donations.”

Stellenbosch Unite

Fellow South African wine producer, Ross Sleet of Rascallion Wines, is also looking to do what he can to help raise awareness of the situation in and around Stellenbosch, the centre and heart beat of the South African wine industry.

Sleet says a number of Stellenbosch organisations have come together to try and help the most vulnerable members of its community, by creating the Stellenbosch Unite initiative.

It is a joint collaboration between Stellenbosch Municipality, Stellenbosch University, tourism organisation Visit Stellenbosch, the Stellenbosch Civil Advocacy Network which represents non-profit community action groups, Ranyaka, and the Greater Stellenbosch Development Trust.

Stellenbosch Unite is looking to provide food aid to those families that have lost all their incomes due to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Jeanneret Momberg, general manager of Visit Stellenbosch, explains: “These most vulnerable members of our community are the people that we used to see every day on the streets and in the restaurants and bars of our town, or who work in the homes of Stellenbosch residents. They have lost their entire income and we have to help and alleviate their situation wherever we can.”

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