Thokoza residents in service delivery protest

Angry residents of Thokoza march down Khumalo Street in demand of service delivery, on Monday, May 15.

Residents from different parts of Thokoza, including Madala, Khuthuza and Mshayazafe hostels, Empilisewni Two Rooms, Empilisweni informal settlement and Phenduka township participated in the protests.

The residents were complaining about the failure of the municipality to make good on the promises that were made in 2005 by former minister of housing Tokyo Sexwale, to revamp the hostels.

Community leader Celi Xaba said, “Ever since we have been waiting for the municipality to act on those promises but the hostels have still not been revamped.

“Sexwale even went inside the hostel and slept in one of the beds. He saw the state our hostels are in. He promised to act on the promises very soon. Fortunately, immediately after he left, the hostels were electrified. We thank him for that. But nothing has been done about revamping the hostels,” said Xaba.

Seeing no plan of action, the residents became impatient and decided to march down one of the busiest streets in Thokoza – Khumalo Street. They blocked the street with stones and burning tyres.

Xaba said they want to know the cause for the delay in service delivery.

Community leader Celi Xaba says residents want to know what’s causing the delay in service delivery.

“There are so many things that we as the community members are not happy about.

“A new hostel was promised to be built in March for the residents of Madala, Khuthuza and Mshayazafe hostels.

“Empilisweni Two Rooms residents were promised to have their RDP houses extended to three rooms.

“Empilisweni informal settlement residents were promised to be moved to Parkfontein and to have RDP houses built for them there.

“Phenduka township residents are facing a problem of having their power supply cut off and it has been happening for quite sometimes now.”

He said the community members of Phenduka have no electricity to heat their homes.

“Especially Empilisweni has been promised that there is a land available where their houses were going to be built,” Xaba said.

Mphostoli Mnisi, another community leader, said people want to be treated with respect and not like animals.

“People from informal settlements were promised to have their houses electrified. But instead they were given solar electricity which can only be used for lighting and charging cellphones,” said Mnisi.

He said cooking is still a problem for the people of Empilisweni.

“What angers the community the most is that they can afford to pay for such services. They do not expect the services to be free,” Mnisi said.

Lesiba Mpya, Ekurhuleni MMC of housing, addresses angry protesters on Monday, May 15. He admitted the municipality should have funded the building of the new hostel a long time ago. The protesters were addressed in Khumalo Street, Thokoza.

Lesiba Mpya, Ekurhuleni MMC of housing, said they should have funded the building of the new hostel a long time ago.

“We apologise for the delay. The reason for the delay is that we wanted to build community residential units in the hostel. Later we realised that it is going to be expensive. So we had to come up with a new plan that the community can afford,” said Mpya.

Mpya said they already have designs for the new RDP houses.

“The sad part is that some of you have already benefited from the housing scheme back home where you came from. If so you won’t benefit for the second time. The system will pick you up,” said Mpya.

He said residents from Empilisweni will be relocated and the funds to do so have been allocated.

With regards to the cutting of the power supply, Mpya said there is a fault in the electricity cables.

“That will be sorted out very soon. We are working day and night to solve the problem,” he said.

Mpya said the reason behind the power supply cuts is that there are a lot of illegal connections in the area.

Mpya promised the angry residents that there will be a meeting between him, the Gauteng MMC of Housing Paul Mashatile and the community leaders within a week.

“The purpose of the meeting will be to brainstorm ideas as to how and when are we going to start delivering the promised services. After that we will call a community meeting to report what we have discussed,” said Mpya.

Xaba said Thokoza will be ungovernable until action is taken.

Three protesters were arrested by the police but were released the same day.

The protests continue.

Also Read: SABC Censorship Protest – Black Friday

Aaron Damane

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