Community Matters In A Time Of Crisis: Metropolitan Pledges Its Support To Those Hardest Hit By Corona

By: Roxanne Manning

Monday, 6 April 2020: As South Africa enters its second week of government-mandated lockdown, the full breadth of the economic and social challenges posed by this period of isolation are becoming ever more apparent. 

Through its Group CSI arm, financial services provider Metropolitan has been in consultation with its partners as well as those outside of these networks, in order to identify where it is able to make a meaningful contribution to the broader communities in which it operates.

Charlene Lackay, CSI Manager at Momentum Metropolitan Holdings, says that while the term ‘physical distancing’ has officially replaced ‘social distancing’ in an effort to acknowledge the increased need for a sense of connection and community, it doesn’t take into account that for a large portion of South Africa, the actual act of this distancing is rendered far more challenging by our socio-economic context. 

“While containment measures such as the closure of schools and requiring that employees stay at home are very necessary, they have the potential of putting those already vulnerable at even further risk.” 

In addition to the R5 million which Momentum Metropolitan Holdings has committed to the Solidarity Fund, a further R4 million in emergency funding has been made available by the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation, in order to buoy and supplement community-focussed interventions. 

“We’ve partnered with those organisations closest to Metropolitan’s communities, so that we can offer support where it is most needed, in line with our promise that ‘what matters to  you, matters to us.’”

Tembisa, Alexandra, Diepsloot & Orange Farm (Gauteng) 

Emergency funding has been allocated to Rhiza Babuyile, a registered non-profit organisation that services the Tembisa, Alexandra, Diepsloot & Orange Farm communities, covering around 40 000 residents in total. 

Rhiza Babuyile will utilise these funds to drive a far-reaching community education and awareness campaign, as well as to ensure food security and supplement funding towards current healthcare and testing facilities. 

Food parcels have been assigned to those families identified as particularly vulnerable, and will be distributed via selected centres. Cleaning, personal hygiene and sanitation, and immune booster supplies will also be available from these centres. 

“Primary healthcare workers will provide counselling, advice and referrals for community members who want more information on the recent outbreak, or have symptoms and need medical attention, in order to reduce the need for public transport and the burden on major hospitals,” explains Lackay.

For more information, visit

Zwide township (Port Elizabeth) 

Ubuntu Pathways, a non-profit organisation located in Port Elizabeth, remains a key source of information, and guides best practice for health and education issues in the Zwide township. 

Ubuntu Pathways will disseminate information to hundreds of families on hygiene, physical distancing, and maintaining good health. Over and above driving awareness, it will provide virus-management and wellness training to frontline staff who service the community, as well as facilitate critical HIV management, among other interventions. 

For more information, visit

Hello Doctor (nationwide service) 

South Africa’s already-overburdened healthcare facilities are currently facing increased pressure. In response to this, ‘Hello Doctor’ is offering those concerned about Corona rapid access to a healthcare professional, through their mobile phones. 

The service is endorsed and approved by the NICD, is free of charge (no airtime required), works on any mobile device, and is available 24/7 from anywhere in South Africa.

To access the service, South Africans can dial the dedicated USSD number *120*394#

This willlaunch a screen with a COVID-19 risk assessment tool. Users must complete the questions, and the outcome of the assessment will trigger a doctor callback request for high-risk individuals, resulting in either resolution or referral. In the case of low-risk individuals, a list of educational COVID-19 facts will be provided.

Bandile Mathebula

Award wining writer and Journalist. Founding Editor In Chief at Sibizi News. Managing Director at Sibizi Media. Vice-Chairman at Ignite Young Minds SA. I have worked in the media industry for the past 7 years working across different brands and industries.

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