Chitungwiza closes down charity kitchen…as thousands of residents go hungry

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Caroline Chiimba
STAFF WRITER
chiimbac@dailynews.co.zw

©️  CHITUNGWIZA Municipality yesterday ordered philanthropist Samantha Murozoki, who was feeding thousands of people daily through her Kuchengetana Relief Kitchen, to close down citing health hazards and contravention of town by-laws.

Murozoki’s coronavirus lockdown relief kitchen started off feeding 47 people for free daily and the number ballooned to 2 000 people as word spread across Chitungwiza.
In a letter addressed to Murozoki, environmental health officer Tongai Mukomondera said the kitchen was not approved by his department in line with the Chitungwiza Urban Council by-laws.
“You are, therefore, advised to cease operations with immediate effect and take necessary procedures to meet minimum requirements for a feeding kitchen,” he said.
The letter sparked outrage from beneficiaries of the kitchen and philanthropists who were crowd-funding to sponsor the initiative and help curb hunger during the indefinite lockdown.
Acting town clerk Tonderai Kasu said the order for Murozoki to close was made due to genuine and legitimate concerns for public health and safety.
“For a start, her operations were not registered with the council in accordance with the Chitungwiza Urban Council by-laws … and she did not have a municipal licence for her operations,” Kasu said.
“Her actions were also in contravention of the Public Health Act. In addition she was not, as required by law, registered as a private voluntary organisation with the Department of Social Welfare.
“It is also in contravention of urban planning by-laws that such work was being conducted from a residential property, which is not zoned for this use.”
The council added that an inspection was done by the health department which revealed that Murozoki’s premises were unsuitable and fell short of standards for municipal licensing of premises where such work is being carried out.
“People working at the site had also not been tested for Covid-19. The practical reality of the situation is that the municipality has a responsibility to take immediate action on this issue; as the operations at the site and the manner in which they were being conducted were a public health hazard that could have resulted in and facilitated the transmission of communicable diseases such as Covid-19, typhoid and cholera,” Kasu added.
When the Daily News visited the kitchen yesterday, the people there were complying with rules to prevent the spread of the virus by wearing masks as well as social distancing.
Speaking to this publication Murozoki said she was saddened by the development and hoped to resolve the issue
soon as thousands of people would go hungry.
“I received the letter yesterday (Wednesday) instructing me to stop operations. It was the worst news ever. I am saddened by the situation because a lot of people who were getting food here will go hungry.
“I have since engaged council and hope to solve this issue soon. I will be meeting with them tomorrow (today) to map the way forward,” she said.

 

 

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