Makhosi Nkosi, 58 is a farm worker from Hillerman Farm in Wartburg about 50 km from Pietermaritzburg. Her household of eight have to live on R2040 a month, which is less than a living wage and much lower than what is needed for a household to buy a basic basket of nutritious food. And, of course, this minimum subsistence amount does not take into account the cost of rent, electricity, clothing and other essentials. Added to this are rising food prices during the lockdown, and the loss of the one meal a day through the school-feeding scheme that her grandchildren relied on to meet their minimum nutrition needs.
During the hard lockdown her household ran out of money to buy food because of increase in food prices. She had to cut down on some of the food items and was forced to borrow money to cover other expenses. This has trapped her in a cycle of debt, including the mealie meal (25 kg) that she buys on credit from her employer who later deducts from her monthly salary.
Some of her grandchildren receive child support grants whilst others don’t because they have no birth certificates. Even with the social grants as an additional income, there is still not enough money to feed the entire family.
Confronted with an immediate need to support her family, Makhosi started a food garden. Which she says “iyalixosha ikati eziko”, an IsiZulu proverb, which means the cat does not sleep on the fireplace. A cat on a fireplace signifies hunger, since there is no cooking, the fireplace is cool enough for a cat to sleep on. In her garden she currently has spinach and cabbages that she also shares with her neighbours.