More than 24 years into a democratic South Africa, QQ informal settlement residents, in Site B, say they have nothing to celebrate, as they continue to face numerous challenges.
The neighbourhood, which is adjacent to Jeff Masemola Road next to the R Section, is one of the most impoverished communities, with high unemployment rate, no electricity, toilets and water taps.
As the nation marked Workers’ Day, on Tuesday May 1, residents said they had nothing to celebrate. To them milestones such as Freedom Day, which was celebrated on Friday April 27, means nothing.
They claim to have lived in appalling conditions for more than 32 years, with no consideration from the government. This, they say has forced them to seek alternative ways to better their lives. Only two standpipes and 20 toilets cater for the area, which has more than 900 shacks. They say the two taps are just not enough.
In a quest to improve their lives, residents have, among others, decided to illegally tap into Eskom’s power supply by connecting electrical cables to the street lights.
They say they are also forced to personally clean the toilets, while others are forced to use toilets in the neighbouring areas.
Community leader, Sandile Mathe, said they had requested additional toilets and taps as well as electricity.
He said residents needed better living conditions and work. He added that if government could not provide the required services, residents were willing to be moved else where.
“Until that happens we do not see the purpose of these days (Freedom and Workers’ Day),” he said. “Why must I celebrate while my living conditions are so bad?”
Mr Mathe said in some cases people are compelled to relieve themselves in buckets and that could not be celebrated. “At night people relieve themselves in buckets and stay with that the whole night, and you tell me people are free. It does not work like that,” he said.
He lashed out at councillors who used people to get votes. He said past and present councillors promised to deal with the matter, however, once elected they sang a different tune.
“ For the once we thought let us change and vote for a Democratic Alliance councillor (Monde Nqulwane), maybe things will change. But we were wrong,” he said.
Mr Mathe charged that when Mr Nqulwane took over he promised to “immediately” sort out their challenges.
“He has had two terms now. What has he done for us in those two terms? Nothing,” he told Vukani.
He said they understood why people resort to violence to voice their frustration, but they were opposed to that.
Resident Ntsikelelo Jim accused their leaders of failing them. “We do not know why we voted in the first place. This freedom they are raving about has not come to us. Our leaders have failed us. If they cannot move people out of here, they must at least add taps and toilets,” he said.
Mr Nqulwane said he understood the residents’ plight, but he had no political power to change their situation.
He said there had been efforts to relocate the residents to Bardale, in Blue Downs, but they refused.
“To me it is a wish that they be relocated, but I do not have the power. We are still talking to the City about a possible relocation,” he said.
The City had not responded at the time of going to print, although they had a week to do so.