The SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) has joined hands with Shoprite, regional airline Airlink and global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) to provide relief and supplies to counter the devastation in Pietermaritzburg.
Between them the organisations aim to move more than 2,000 food packages and provisions to hungry people in the KwaZulu-Natal capital.
A team of 85 volunteers from Airlink and HSF are due to land in the city on Sunday where minibus taxis belonging to Santaco members will ferry them to those areas in most need of support.
Relief supplies and food packages were donated by Airlink, HSF and their staff with Shoprite matching the donations.
Airlink has had a long association with Pietermaritzburg which it has served for many years, said CEO Rodger Foster.
“We felt it was important to demonstrate how, by joining hands, it is possible to honour the values promoted by Nelson Mandela by repairing community trust, restoring civil society and rebuilding the local economy,” he said.
Sunday is Nelson Mandela International Day.
“In the spirit of Nelson Mandela Day we can help to bridge and heal the ruptures to the social fabric in our region and neighbourhoods, especially where fear and insecurity saw some communities seek retribution by attacking their neighbours,” said Santaco spokesperson Sifiso Shangase.
HSF senior associate Tatum Govender said it was important that South Africans stood together, not only during the crisis but also to work towards creating “a more sustainable and equitable society where the rule of law is respected alongside our constitutional rights, including the dignity and wellbeing of every citizen”.
Airlink has been flying medicine and other supplies to the city since its Oribi airport was reopened on Wednesday, as well as contributing to a wider relief operation which has seen 50 tonnes of food flown from Joburg to embattled Durban.
It also flew people out of the city who had been stranded after the N3 road was closed by protest action.
People living near the airport have also been woken in the small hours in recent days as SA Air Force Hercules C-130 transporters fly in hundreds of troops, including members of the elite Marine Reaction Force, who will be deployed.