What made news in 2016

Kuyasa Primary School pupils were forced into the streets when the fight for positions in the August local government elections spread to their school.

As the year draws to an end with this the last edition of Vukani for the year, we take this opportunity to reflect on some of the stories that made headlines in 2016. Like any other year, this year we covered a range of topics, from the exciting and hilarious, to sad and serious moments.

* January

Our matric features proved that your background has no bearing on what you can achieve, and what you become in life. That is the spirit and the attitude this year’s matriculants would have to display. Asanda Magoda, from the Centre of Science and Technology (Cosat), in Khayelitsha, was a shining example of that. She was among a group of pupils honoured by Premier Helen Zille, at the National Senior Certificate awards ceremony.

The matriculants’ successes, however, were quickly overshadowed by the hair dispute between Azania Stofile and Bulumko High School. Azania was barred from attending school because of his dreadlocked hair. Although the matter was finally straightened out, it started all over again later in the year when pupils at San Souci Girls’ High stood up for being targeted because of their natural hair – a sad indictment on a diverse country with more than 22 years of liberation.

As is always the case during December and January, scores of people in another community, this time in KTC, Nyanga, were left homeless when a fire broke out in the neighbourhood. It is the time for our communities to be vigilant and to ensure that candles and paraffin stoves are used correctly and responsibly.

This month also saw the escalation of gang violence in the townships, resulting in the killing of Samnkelo Ndika. The 17-year-old was killed begging for mercy, in front of his whole family. He died in his grandmother’s arms.

* February

The illegal sale of land by some community leaders reared its ugly head in Zwelitsha. The need for housing continued to be a challenge for most people in the townships and would probably continue for many more years to come. It must be noted though that it is sad when people who are tasked with leading their communities turn against them by making shoddy business deals.

The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which is tasked with distributing social grants, was embroiled in controversy when it emerged that some beneficiaries had illegal deductions from their payouts. The problem continued late into the year, and Sassa embarked on a drive to warn grant beneficiaries not to fall for scams.

* March

Living with albinism became a subject of discussion when the Tyongozi family, in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha, came under constant verbal abuse from the community to the point where community leaders had to intervene. The entire family lives with albinism, and it is important for society to understand and accept other people for who they are.

Taking a funeral policy is often regarded as a way of protecting yourself against any any financial difficulties when a family member passes away. However, that is not always the case as Sylvia Mfundeni of Site C learned. Despite having a life policy for her sister, she had to rely on other people to bury her sister when the policy did not pay out. Incidents like these cast doubts on the credibility of some insurance companies.

March also marked the 30th anniversary of the death of the Gugulethu Seven – Zandisile Zenith Mjobo, Mandela Zola Selani, Mandla Simon Mxinwa, Godfrey Jabulani Miya, Themba Mlifi, Zabonke John Konile and Christopher Piet – at the hands of the apartheid regime.

* April

April marked the start of a reign of terror for the Nyanga community with the gruesome killing of 82-year-old Nomalizo Khuthu. She was killed when a group of gangs looking for a relative of hers stormed their house in Zwelitsha. They also killed Siphiwo Ngcwangu, 43, Linathi and Mbulelo Ngcwangu, 15 and eight respectively. A few metres away, the Crossroads community also had their hands full trying to sort out escalating crime.

* May

With rampant crime in the townships, the provincial government, in partnership with the Oliver Kahn Foundation and Amandla EduFootball, launched a Safe Hub in Gugulethu.

In Khayelitsha the Rape Crisis Centre launched a garden initiative to help rape victims. The month also saw group of pensioners from various parts of the Eastern Cape protest at the doors of the National Assembly for monies they believe were due to them and had not been paid by the government.

* June

The need for housing continued to be a talking point across the townships. In a bizzare twist a group of agents preying on desperate buyers were arrested in Mfuleni. The agents sold properties without the knowledge of their owners.

Elderly people are valued a lot in most communities, however, in New Crossroads thugs showed they have no regard for them when they broke into Noluthando Seniors’ Club.

Pensioners were left stranded.

* July

A month normally used to celebrate former president late Nelson Mandela’s birthday, saw various political parties launch their local government election campaigns, scheduled for Wednesday August 3. The month also marked the first anniversary for the gruesome murder of Bongiwe Ninini. Her body was found staffed in an unused drain in an open field opposite Thembani shopping centre, in July 15. The Social Justice Coalition and its partners hosted an anniversary to condemn women abuse.

* August

The country held its fourth local government elections. Some councillors were removed from position they held for years. The elections saw a major change in the country’s political history as the African National Congress lost two major municipalities, City of Johannesburg and Tshwane, both in the Gauteng province. The community of a small LA informal settlement, in Driftsands, was thrown into panic when a decomposed body was found in the nearby reeds. The area is notorious for many similar other discoveries.

* September

September is normally a period where the South African Police Services release their crime statistics, and this year was no different. What also remained the same was that Nyanga remained at the top of the crime stats for murder cases. Massive housing protests have become a common thing in Langa, and this year it was no different. The neighbourhood came to a grinding halt when people took to the streets to demand houses. September also saw the introduction of water restrictions in the province.

* October

After more than a year of court proceedings Bongani Dlamini was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Anovuyo Ndamase. Anovuyo went missing at the beginning of last year. Her body was found stuffed in a plastic bag a few days after she went missing. Mr Dlamini was subsequently arrested and charged with her murder. In October, he was sentenced at the Western Cape High Court. The KTC community was gripped in fear when boys went on rampage destroying people’s properties.

* November

One of Khayelitsha’s most prominent hospitlals, Michael Maphongwana Community Health Centre, came under fire for alleged ill-treatment of patients. The Treatment Action Campaign accused staff of disrespecting patients.

The community of the Island informal settlement meanwhile demanded services from the City after their toilets were allegedly not cleaned for months.