||Cosatu: Protests are response to inequality
Sapa 30 October 2009
The recent service delivery protests are in part a response to the
levels of inequality in society, the Congress of SA Trade Unions
(Cosatu) said on Friday.
"Some of you may not see the link but how do we explain that elsewhere
in Africa there is far greater poverty, yet we do not see the same
amount of social unrest?" spokesman Patrick Craven asked the SA Reward
Association's annual conference.
He said poverty in these other countries was more widespread and general.
"People in surrounding communities are seen to suffer from the same
poverty and lack of service delivery and it is thus accepted reluctantly
as a fact of life," he said.
On the other hand, communities like Alexandra and Diepsloot were next
door to Sandton and Fourways, communities which lived "in a different
Arguments about of a lack of resources for service delivery carried no
weight among people who were living in shacks but who encountered people
with seemingly limitless resources living only a few kilometres away.
"The situation is made even worse when their own local representatives
move into the wealthy suburbs and adopt a capitalist lifestyle," Craven
Most councillors and mayors continued to do good work often under
difficult conditions, he said.
However, the recent protests were in part a revolt against people
elected by the community who had become corrupt, moved out of the
community, lived a life of affluence at the people's expense and did
nothing to help those they had left behind.
South Africa's levels of inequality were unparalleled, Craven said.
He pointed out that in the last financial year Brett and Mark Levy of
Blue Label Telecoms were South Africa's top-earning executives, taking
home R50,4-million and R49,5-million respectively.
In the financial sector, First Rand's chief executive, Paul Harris, made
R27.8-million, Sanlam chief executive Johan van Zyl R27.1-million,
former Absa chief executive Steve Booysen R18,2-million and Standard
Bank chief executive Jaco Maree R14,1-million.
"My opponents in this debate therefore need to justify why South Africa
should have such unparalleled levels of inequality.
"They may argue that these individuals deserve these obscene salaries
and perks, because they have earned them through hard work, which has
created wealth for their shareholders who took a risk by investing their
However, Craven said that in South Africa these bonuses were paid to the
top managers regardless of how hard they had worked or the performance
of the companies they were managing.
"The best example is Eskom, which has increased its CEO's salary by 26.7
percent despite its manifest failure to deliver an efficient and
affordable service," he said.
"These same companies which pay out these first-world salaries to their
CEOs expect their employees to accept third-world wages." - Sapa
COSATU shocked at unemployment rise
COSATU 30 October 2009
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is absolutely shocked at the
revelation in the Stats SA Labour Force Survey that the country’s
official unemployment rate increased to 24.5% of the labour force in the
third quarter of 2009, from 23.6% in the second quarter, and that the
number of employed people fell by 484,000 to 12.885 million.
This means that a staggering 4.192 million South Africans are now
without work. And that rises to 4.702 million if you add the 510 000 who
have given up even looking for a job or have opted out of the labour
The more realistic expanded definition of unemployment, which includes
those people that have given up looking for work, climbed from 32.5% to
34.4% in the same period.
Stats S.A. say that "these patterns … show the continued deterioration
in the South African labour market ... job losses were widespread,
affecting most industries". But of particular concern is that the key
manufacturing sector shed 150,000 jobs, equivalent to 8% of total jobs
for the industry. Wholesale and retail trade lost 110,000 jobs.
These statistics prove that we remain in the midst of a national
unemployment emergency. But it is more than that. They reveal a
fundamental structural problem in the economy, an economy which is being
The underlying cause is the mistaken policies between 1996 and 2004, of
cutting tariffs and privatising basic services, combined with a failure
to restructure the economy, and in particular the totally inappropriate
monetary policies pursued in those years, centred on the pursuit of the
misguided belief in inflation-targeting.
All our warnings about these false policies were ignored, and now the
problems they have caused coincide with a world economic crisis and the
chickens are coming home to roost.
This is reflected in the wave of community service-delivery protests,
which are about specific local grievances but are also related to the
structural problems in the economy.
We have a new government committed to reverse these policies and
implement a strategy to grow the economy and create decent work. But
when they are still finding their feet they have got caught up in this
It is more urgent than ever that they adopt a bold new approach,
speedily address these structural problems and implement the ambitious
job-saving and job-creating measures spelled out in the ANC manifesto,
the State of the Nation address and the Framework Agreement on South
Africa’s response to the world economic crisis.
Immediate measures must be taken to protect our industries and prevent
an even worse descent into total economic meltdown. Government, business
and labour – and the SA Reserve Bank – must focus all their policies on
saving jobs, creating new jobs, ending the jobloss bloodbath as rapidly
as possible and getting the South African economy moving forward again.
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
1-5 Leyds Cnr Biccard Streets
Protests at new mall: Chaos halts opening of new mall
Nompumelelo Magwaza, (The Mercury) 29 October 2009
Three people were arrested when hundreds of job seekers disrupted the
opening of the Bridge City Mall in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday
The crowd, believed to be people from Inanda, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma, were
demanding jobs from the development, saying they had been promised jobs
by the ward councillor.
The main road to the mall was littered with burning tyres, rubbish and
Traffic coming into the mall had to be redirected and motorists were
ordered to turn back by the protesters.
The police fired rubber bullets and used water tanks to disperse the
protestors because they had blockaded the main road.
KwaMashu police spokesperson Constable Mumsy Mfeka said the crowd had
gathered outside the mall early on Wednesday morning demanding jobs from
the mall's owners.
She said more police had now been deployed in the area to control the
Three arrested in mall protest
MPUME MADLALA and SAPA 30 October 2009
THREE people were arrested on charges of public disorder when more than
2 000 protesters disrupted the official opening of eThekwini
Municipality's flagship project, the Bridge City Shopping Centre, in
Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Muzi Mngo-mezulu said the two
women and a man were arrested after they had refused to disperse as
instructed and they would appear in court soon.
They were with other irate protesters who claimed that local people had
not been employed at the mall.
Mngomezulu said police would return to the mall today to monitor the
Constable Mumsy Mfeka said police had to use water cannons to disperse
the protesters who had blocked the entrance to the mall yesterday.
Nirode Bramdaw, the spokesman for Development Crowie Projects, said in
spite of the protest, the centre had attracted about 70 000 shoppers.
"We apologise for the inconvenience," he said.
The centre, near Inanda Township, forms part of a major new precinct
that will include flats, government and commercial offices, a 400-bed
provincial hospital and a regional court.
Cops on stand-by in Eldorado Park
Sapa 30 October 2009
Eldorado Park in Johannesburg was quiet on Friday morning following
housing protests in the area this week, Gauteng police said.
"Everything is quiet... and the police are on stand-by," said Captain
She said police were prepared for possible unrest later in the day.
Ten people who were arrested during protests on Wednesday night would
appear in the Protea Magistrates' Court on Friday on charges of public
The protests began on Wednesday after police demolished about 2 000
shacks that had been built on private land. - Sapa
Musina on verge of mass riots: Samwu
Sapa 30 October 2009
Musina residents were "on the verge of a mass uprising" due to
corruption and poor service delivery, the SA Municipal Workers' Union in
Limpopo said today.
The situation in Musina is tense and on the verge of a mass uprising
"Samwu members from the Musina local municipality in Limpopo province
have discovered grave corruption and malpractice... these findings have
emerged in cheques, bank statements and financial reports of the
municipality," it alleged in a statement.
"The situation in Musina is tense and on the verge of a mass uprising."
Workers were "sick and tired of the lack of service delivery". Roads
were riddled with potholes, municipal vehicles were poorly maintained
and there was "blatant corruption" by municipal managers.
Citing "compelling evidence", Samwu said the municipality's finances
were in the red.
"The municipality has incurred a deficit of R552,467.43 this year during
an annual show hosted by the municipality, which was riddled with
corruption," the union claimed.
Samwu had asked the ANC's regional executive committee to intervene
"immediately", and would raise alleged corruption, unfilled vacancies,
poor service delivery, political interference in the administration of
the municipality and companies operating without proper contracts with
"If these issues are not dealt with as a matter of urgency, we will find
ourselves experiencing a situation similar to what the country
experienced in Diepsloot and Lekwa municipalities."
After recent service delivery protests in Standerton, Mpumalanga, the
ANC stepped in. As a result the Lekwa municipality mayor and a number of
councillors were fired.
The Musina municipality could not immediately be reached for comment.
Update on yesterday’s violent police attack on our community
Gugulethu AEC Press Update 30 October 2009
Yesterday we reported that the police tried to illegally ban our mass
protest against the new Gugulethu Square Mall. After failing to ban our
protest, they shot at us even though we were peaceful and the media saw
that we were peaceful. Since then, a few details have emerged:
They brought in an entirely new police team on Thursday. From Monday
through to Wednesday, Captain Brink and his team from the Gugulethu SAPS
was accompanying us and protecting us during our march and peaceful
protest against the mall. On Thursday, Captain Brink and his team was
removed from working with us. Instead, a police team from Bellville
South was brought in. These police officers were aggressive from the
very beginning. They refused to talk to us. They refused to work with
us. Instead the worked against us.
When we left the mall site at that morning after staging our protest,
the police followed us. As we were crossing NY1 main road, they ordered
us to disperse or they will shoot. Instead, we staged a civil
disobediance sit-in on NY1. We sat right down on the road and continued
our peaceful protest. Police immediately opened fire on us in full view
of other journalists. Many people were shot with rubber bullets
including many women and older people.
Residents ran for cover. We did not fight. We did not even throw stones
in retaliation. But as we ran, police ran after us. They shot us as we
hid in neighbour’s houses. When we came out, they shot us again. Dozens
were injured. Dozens were arrested. Many had to go to hospital when they
were shot in the face, in the neck, and in the back.
We also now know that the new group of police officers from Bellville
came at the insistence of Mzoli Ngcawuzele and councillor Belinda
Landingwe who have close connections with the police and have ordered
attacks on our movement in the past.
This story is the truth. The police are lying when they say that we were
violent and that there was no one hurt and no one arrested. Anyone who
doubts this story can speak to any of the protesters themselves. We will
be holding a mass meeting on Thursday at 17h00 and we will make time for
the victims to be interviewed at this meeting. Anyone is welcome to
contact us to attend.
For more information, please contact:
Thozamile Tsotsobe at 078 555 8662
Bulelwa Bolsiki at 074 960 8964
Mncedisi Twalo at 078 580 8646
Thando Swakamisa at 076 498 5096
Malibongwe at 074 639 9551
Victor Boqo (Potchefstroom Herald) 23 Oktober 2009
Residents of Sarafina (Ward 18) will take to the streets tomorrow, in
protest against the alleged non-performance of their ward councillor.
Criticism against Ms Ntombi Koloti has mounted in the past two years,
with ward members saying she is too busy to honour her official duties
towards the community that elected her.
According to local government guideline, the ward councillor is the link
between the council and the community.
But this access has been denied ward 18, says community representative,
Mr Seun Bothoza. He alleges that Koloti has not called a single public
meeting in two years, that she offered no public participation in the
integrated development plan (IDP) programmes and that the ward never had
feedback on council decisions and housing projects in their area.
He says attempts to engage the speaker’s office about the
inaccessibility of the councillor had been unsuccessful.
"We are fed-up and want her to be fired from her position as a
councillor," he said.
Tlokwe’s speaker, Mr Lucky Tsagae, confirmed that community
representatives had been to see him two years ago, complaining that the
councillor did not call regular meetings and that the ward was suffering
as a result.
"I met with Koloti and ward committee members and they all agreed to
work together and hold public meetings," he said. Three months later the
complainants were back, claiming that Koloti had never kept her promise.
Following numerous complaints from ward 18, Tsagae decided to bring the
matter to the attention of the mayor, Maphetle Maphetle, and council
chief whip, Ms Barei Segotso.
They confronted her and, once again, Koloti undertook to meet with the
public and provide all outstanding reports up to 14 August 2009. The
meeting never took place.
Tsagae is awaiting a conclusive report from both the mayor and the chief
whip before taking action. He says he has no option but to inform higher
structures of the ANC, in writing, and seek their advice.
Koloti denies that she is unavailable.
"We have had sectional meetings instead of public meetings because of
political infighting by community members," she says.
Ward 18 will hand over a memorandum of demands after the march on
Thursday. The removal of the ward councillor will undoubtedly head the list.
For more on the protest read Tuesday’s North West Gazette.
Protest over 'corrupt' BRT officials
Sapa 30 October 2009
Disgruntled "volunteer" workers on Joburg's Bus Rapid Transit project
protested yesterday against what they claimed was management corruption.
The workers, employed on a three-month contract, handed memorandum of
grievances to mayor Amos Masondo's representative, Phakedi Masekela.
"The memorandum brings to the attention of the mayor allegations of
corruption in the selection and appointment of support workers in the
BRT," said workers' committee chairman Mfanafuthi Dumakude.
"We are demanding fair treatment in selection, and proper employment
The support workers include station ambassadors and security staff.
Dumakude said some people had paid R600 to get jobs. "Management is
aware of this corruption. They are doing it collectively," he said.
The protesters also tried unsuccessfully to lock BRT stations early
yesterday morning in order to disrupt operations.
BRT management could not be immediately reached for comment. - Sapa
Police shoot residents in peaceful AEC protest against Gugs Mall
Gugulethu AEC Press Alert 29 October 2009
The Gugulethu police interrupted a peaceful protest by the Gugulethu Anti-Eviction Campaign this afternoon. Without warning residents at all, they shot at us with rubber bullets injuring dozens and arresting many others.
The much of the crowd was made up of old women and there were a lot of children also present. A 17 year old lady was shot in the face by the police and is now seriously injured and at the hospital.
At the moment we are not sure how many people have been shot and arrested. We do know, however, that today the police attempted to illegally ban the public protest which has been going on since Monday. From Monday through Wednesday, the police behaved respectuflly and helped escort us when we marched towards the mall. Today, they would not let us march. So a delegation of AEC activists went today to the Civic Centre in Cape Town to get a permit but we were prevented by police from entering the Civic Centre.
Why this sudden shift today in the way the police are treating us?
What we do know is that business tycoon Mzoli Ngcawuzele and councillor Belinda Landingwe have deep political connections and close friends within the Gugulethu Police. They have oppressed our movement in the past and shot at us before. They have arrested members of our movement and even physically threatened them through the use of local ANC thugs.
We believe that the police banned our march and then attacked us because we to big of a thorn in Mzoli's side. We believe that the police attack was orchestrated by Mzoli and Belinda to prevent us from exposing the truth about the corruption and nepotism at the Gugulethu Square Mall. We believe that the police were ordered to attack us because we refused to work with the ANC's Gugulethu Development Forum which plays party politics with our lives.
We believe that the attack on our movement corresponds with a dangerous trend in South Africa where the police are being militarised and being given political sanction to attack outspoken critics of the goverment such as the Anti-Eviction Campaign and Abahlali baseMjondolo (see Kennedy Road attacks).
Contacts: Malibongwe at 074 639 9551 and Mncedisi at 078 580 8646
10 held after housing protest
SAPA 29 October 2009
Johannesburg - Ten people were arrested overnight during a housing
protest in Eldorado Park, police said on Thursday.
"They were arrested for public violence," said Captain Phillemon
Khorombi of protests which started earlier on Wednesday and led to roads
blocked with rocks.
Enver Naidoo, who lives in the community, said the protest centred on a
group of disgruntled coloured residents who felt they were being
overlooked in favour of black people for housing allocations.
The group found a vacant piece of land in Extension Nine and staked out
their stands with string. They allegedly spent between R2 000 to R5 000
to buy zinc and wood to construct homes.
Then, said Naidoo, police arrived with trucks and dismantled their
shacks and chased them off the land, near Boundary road.
"When the black people sneeze, the government gets a cold," said Naidoo
of the feeling they were being sidelined.
Confiscated building materials
Their immediate concern was how they were going to get their money back
for the confiscated building materials, as most were poor and already
struggling to buy school clothes and books for their children.
"That's our cry: what is government going to do?"
In the meantime, they had been in contact with a ward councillor over
their concerns and were waiting for feedback.
On Wednesday metro police fired rubber bullets while the group resisted
the dismantling of about 2 000 shacks.
Khorombi reported that the area was "quiet" on Thursday morning, with
Naidoo saying about 40 people were still at the site and were waiting
for night shift workers to join them.
Those arrested were expected to appear in the Protea Magistrate's Court
Metro cops called us stupid bushmen'
ZANDILE MBABELA 28 October 2009
After the shacks they built were torn down, residents of Eldorado Park
abandoned their peaceful protest and barricaded roads with burning tyres.
About 300 residents erected burning barricades to try stop Johannesburg
Metro police, whom they claim called them "stupid Bushmen", demolishing
their new shack settlement, called Birdview, built in protest against a
shortage of houses.
Craig de Lange, whose seven-month-old baby was hospitalised after
inhaling tear gas fired at them by police, said the police "provoked"
protesters by tearing down their new homes.
"Metro cops came and forcefully removed us, calling us stupid bushmen,"
he said. "We were protesting peacefully here and we don't understand why
they come with a fighting attitude."
The shacks were built on land allocated more than 20 years ago for a
hospital, which is yet to be built.
Resident Edward Johnson said he was tired of hearing how housing
authorities are "always in talks and meetings" and now want them to act.
"The meeting has been going on for 15 years now," he said. "It's time
that it is adjourned and those people actually start the work. We want
to see tractors and everything digging for developing new houses."
Angry residents, who on Tuesday said they decided to conduct a peaceful
protest, are now threatening next year's Fifa World Cup, saying that if
government can spend billions beautifying the country, they can do
something about the housing shortage.
Hilton Cannell, a member of the residents' housing committee, said: "We
will protest at the stadiums so that the tourists can also see how badly
we have it here. We have been waiting for our government that we put in
power to deliver on the promises they made to us."
Area ward councillor Kevin Wax said a meeting will be held between
residents and officials on Sunday.
"I am afraid to attend these meetings because community members always
direct their anger at me," he said.
Service delivery protest in KZN
Lwandi Genu 28 October 2009
Residents of Mpumalanga township in KwaZulu Natal are planning a service
delivery protest this Saturday. They intend to hand over a memorandum of
grievances to the Minister of Local Government and Co-orperation, Sicelo
Shiceka. Residents' spokesman Victor Dladla claims a local counsellor
has failed to act on the issues that they've raised.
Outcry over Gugulethu Mall heats up, actions to continue Wednesday morning
Gugulethu AEC Press Release 28 October 2009
On Monday, hundreds of Gugulethu residents marched in protest over the
improper allocation of jobs at the new Gugulethu Square Mall which is
set to begin trading this Thursday.
Yesterday, the 27th of October, representatives from the mall along with
local ward councillors and the Gugulethu Development Forum (GDF)
convened a meeting to address the anger of community members regarding
this issue. At 18h00, Kwezi Hall was packed with members of the
Anti-Eviction Campaign and other Gugulethu residents with crowed
estimates somewhere between 1,000-2,000.
The residents were furious at the entire job process despite PR efforts
presenting the mall as a boon for the local economy. Residents
complained of the non-response from employers after they had sent in
their resumes online through the Jobs@Gugs program. Other residents
complained that since the mall was support by local government, at least
80% of the jobs should be given to locals.
Ward councillors insisted that residents should use the Gugulethu
Development Forum as a platform to speak with the mall’s management
about the jobs.
However, after only a short time, angry residents walked out of the
meeting saying that only a non-partisan organisation such as the
Anti-Eviction Campaign can create a platform to fight for jobs for
residents. Since the AEC was not associated with any political party, it
could fairly represent the unemployed workers of Gugulethu.
The people don’t have confidence in councillors and their forums!
Since the ward councillors and the GDF are all associated with political
parties, residents refused to work with them saying that they are
against the politicisation of jobs and the distribution of jobs only to
members of certain political parties.
This morning at 06h30, residents will assemble at Kwezi Hall and again
march in protest to the mall construction site. The residents will
continue to prevent the mall from opening and will disturb all functions
associated with the mall until the employers agree that 80% of the
mall’s jobs will go to Gugulethu residents.
Down with the politicisation of jobs! The mall must benefit all, not
only a few!
For comment, please contact:
Mncedisi at 078 580 8646
Pule at 073 644 8919
Mbulelo 073 674 7077
Waste management strike
Lwandi Genu 28 October 2009
An illegal strike over unpaid overtime bonuses to Tshwane municipal
workers has disrupted waste management services in Pretoria and its
surrounds. Waste management spokesman Brenda Mpitsang says workers are
protesting peacefully but illegally in the Centurion area. She added
workers did not get their overtime pay because there was a problem with
the payment system. This has now been resolved and all overtime claims
are expected to be paid by Friday. Services most affected are waste
management, refuse collection, and landfill and garden refuse site
operations. Mpitsang says until the matter has been resolved, the public
could use landfill sites to dispose of their refuse.
Ceppwawu members protest against labour brokers
Sapa 28 October 2009
CEPPWAWU members on Wednesday held three pickets in KwaZulu-Natal
demanding the banning of labour brokers.
We want the issue of labour brokers to be banned. Every worker deserves
to be permanent at work. That is why we are protesting, said Ellias
Dhlomo, secretary for the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and
Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU) in KwaZulu-Natal.
Speaking during a picket outside a rubber manufacturing plant in
Pinetown, Dhlomo said the protests were part of the unions national
campaign for the ban of labour brokers.
He said there was extensive evidence that many labour brokers exploited
workers and breached their rights under labour legislation.
CEPPWAWU members carried placards that read: Ban labour brokers, create
decent jobs. We want all labour brokers to be eradicated.
Dhlomo said protests were also taking place in Empangeni, Newcastle and
CEPPWAWU is an affiliate of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu)
which is also against labour brokering.
Cosatu had called on the government to ban labour broking to curb
exploitation of temporary workers. - Sapa
Nowhere to run
YAZEED KAMALDIEN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA 27 October 2009
Despite attempts to evict victims of last year's xenophobic violence
from a Cape Town safety camp, their future remains uncertain. Their
relocation could mean more attacks, writes Yazeed Kamaldien
Rehema Shindano is 15 and the eldest of five sisters -- refugees from
the Democratic Republic of Congo -- who haven't been to school for more
than a year.
Having fled their home when xenophobic violence erupted countrywide in
May 2008, they now live in a plastic tent with their parents at the Blue
Waters safety site in Strandfontein, Cape Town.
Shindano's family was among the 20 000 African foreigners in Cape Town
displaced by the violence.
Now they face the possibility of a second eviction -- and this time it
will probably be back to the townships they fear. They have lived at
Blue Waters for about 18 months, against the will of officials who have
wanted them off the site since last September.
The City of Cape Town's application for an eviction order to get
Shindano, her family and about 300 other refugees out of the Blue Waters
seaside recreation area continued in the Cape High Court this week.
Meanwhile, Shindano lives in limbo.
"I would like to go back to school one day, but not in this country
because I don't feel comfortable here anymore. I would like to live in a
safe place where the people will welcome us with open arms. Where people
are kind to us. I'm not sure where that will be," says Shindano of her
Her younger sisters giggle and play in the small tent where they live.
Utensils and foodstuffs are packed on the tent's floor. There is not
much light inside the tent as there is no electricity here -- they use
candles to light their temporary homes and firewood for cooking. If they
want cellphone batteries recharged, they send the devices to friends.
There is no hot water; mobile toilets have been set up but sanitation is
not this site's best feature. Tents are grouped according to the
nationalities of the site's inhabitants.
The site is a sort of no-man's-land the inhabitants of which face an
uncertain future. It's a bleak existence at Blue Waters, but the
refugees stay on. Why not reintegrate?
Shindano says it simply: "We are still scared of what might happen." She
says they had lived in the Samora Machel informal settlement in
Phillipi, Cape Town, from the time they arrived in South Africa in 2003.
But then everything changed.
"I remember refugees taking their belongings and running to the police
station. I was coming home from school that day. In trains people were
shouting that they would kill foreigners. We were scared of showing them
our faces or telling them that we were foreigners," says Shindano. "We
got home and our father told us that we should leave. We knew what would
happen. They were saying that we should leave this country."
The Shindanos ended up at a police station, then at two different
mosques and finally at Blue Waters. It doesn't offer much.
"People give us food and clothes. That's the happiest time. Sometimes
it's very boring to live here. It feels like the United Nations has
failed us," says Shindano.
Most refugees at Blue Waters have the impression that the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will secure them a
brighter life elsewhere.
Lawrence Mbangson, an UNHCR representative in Cape Town, has been acting
as a mediator between refugees and the city's authorities. He seems to
be more sympathetic to the city's desire to clear Blue Waters.
The UN body has been pivotal in moving the Blue Waters refugees to the
Delft Symphony Way temporary relocation area, which has problems of its
own. Mbangson feels strongly that some refugees are exploiting the
"Some refugees are in this country illegally. They want resettlement …
very few people get that.
"Even if you meet the criteria, it can take four to eight years. And
they don't qualify. They don't realise that a plane will not come from
nowhere to take them to America or Europe," he said.
Moving these refugees to Delft -- which locals call Blikkiesdorp, in
reference to its 1300 flimsy zinc structures -- has so far been
disastrous. Refugees say they constantly face death threats from locals,
while murders and drug abuse are common.
Samsam Ahmad, a Somali mother of two children, said that she does not
"feel safe in this place". She was holding her new-born baby as she
talked about her fears.
"Every night they knock and say, 'What are you doing here? This is my
place'. They say they want to burn us. My children's lives are at risk.
Every night I don't sleep. I left Blue Waters because the UNHCR said
they want to give us protection. But now my life is in danger. This is
A fragile-looking 60-year-old Somali woman demonstrates the loud bangs
they get at night on their temporary zinc homes in Blikkiesdorp. An
Ethiopian refugee appears, willing to share his story, but is scared of
"I came here [to Blikkiesdorp] because I had no choice," he says. "The
UNHCR said it would put us somewhere where there is protection. But
here, someone can kill me."
Back at Blue Waters, Shindano is scared and uncertain. She says she had
lots of South African friends.
"They didn't feel right about what was happening but I knew somewhere
inside of them they felt that foreigners should leave this country. I'm
not sure how I knew this. I thought that their parents started talking
about it to them," says Shindano.
"When the whole country is against you, it's just not right. You are
scared and you just want to run."
All I want is a house to call home
ZANDILE MBABELA (Times online) 27 October 2009
Rose Kamaar, 69, has lived in a one-bedroom house for 30 years and now
shares it with 12 of her children and grandchildren.
The pensioner, from Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, took part in a
peaceful service-delivery protest yesterday with about 150 of her
They erected shacks on vacant land in the township's extension 9 in
protest against the government's failure to honour its promises to build
houses for them.
Kamaar - who has been waiting for a home for more than 30 years after
being forcibly removed from Kliptown in the apartheid era - and her
fellow protestors have called the new "suburb" Birdview.
"I don't want to fight because all I want is for the government to give
us the houses they promised us over and over," she said.
"I just want a house for my grandchildren to call home."
The protesters said they were tired of rampant corruption in the Gauteng
Community leader Jeff Woodworth said residents were "done with talking".
The area's recently elected ward councillor, Kevin Wax, said housing was
a major concern but that did not excuse what he called the residents'
Jansen must ‘resign now’
Sibongile Mashaba 27 October 2009
Groups charge rector with racism
COSATU and other organisations say they will not rest until newly
appointed University of Free State rector Jonathan Jansen resigns.
Members of Cosatu, the ANCYL, Cosas, Sasco and the ANC Women’s League,
joined by more than 200 protestors outside the Bloemfontein court
yesterday labelled Jansen a racist.
ANCYL Free State chairperson Thabo Meeko said: “The only thing he wishes
to be is a white boy.
“We will shoot to kill racism and those who are racist. Jansen must go
and the entire university council must be disbanded.”
Cosatu’s Free State secretary, Sam Mashinini, said: “Jansen is equally a
“We will not rest until he is gone.
“It is clear that Jansen is not ready for transformation. More and more
harsher actions are yet to come. ”We will mobilise from the ground.
Jansen started on the wrong foot and must go. We will not sleep until he
SACP chairperson Charles Stofic said: “We will fight fire with fire.
Maybe Jansen doesn’t have a mother and came from a tree, but those are
our mothers and we are going to fight for them.”
Sasco deputy chairperson PEC Chabana Chabana said: “These boys decided
to make our mothers toilets.
“Let them come back and we will show them.”
The protestors carried placards, some of which read: “Arrogance+ Lies+
Manipulation > Jansen”; “Jansen: Your decision equals discrimination”;
“Jansen > Disaster.”
Police kept a strong presence until the protestors dispersed peacefully.
Protests at ‘Reitz Four’ court case
CITIZEN REPORTER and SAPA 26 October 2009
JOHANNESBURG - The prospect of charges related to the Reitz racist video
incident being dropped caused an outrage outside the Bloemfontein
Regional Court yesterday.
Protesters from the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and National Education,
Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) picketed outside the court
where the crimen injuria case of the so-called “Reitz Four” was
scheduled to start.
Some women in green ANCWL clothes held placards with anti-racism messages.
Newly-appointed University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen
started the stir last week after announcing that the institution had
pardoned the four students, and that they could finish their studies if
they wished to do so – a decision he later revoked under pressure.
More protest action is expected on campus this week.
The case was postponed to February 24, 2010.
State prosecutor Ben Mulutsi yesterday asked the court to postpone the
matter to consider representations made by the defence which were
received last Wednesday.
“I must admit the representations have put pressure on the prosecution,”
RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler are
accused of humiliating five black staff members at the university in a
mock initiation ceremony which they filmed.
The four women cleaners and a man are seen on their hands and knees
eating food which had apparently been urinated on by a white student.
The students also express opposition to the university’s integration
policy in the video.
On Monday, Mulutsi submitted that the State would not withdraw charges
against the students.
“The representations made have, however, forced the State to go deeper
into the matter, to consult,” he said, alluding to the fact that aspects
of “restoratives justice” were put on the table.
Addressing the group of protesters, outside the court, provincial ANC
spokesman Tebogo Sikisi said that those that represent “white
conservatism, Jansen, must also go”.
Cosatu provincial secretary Sam Mashinini also told the group that
Jansen should resign.
Fed Up, Furious... And All Fired Up
The Star 26 October 2009
South Africa has seen a sharp increase in what have been labelled
"service delivery protests" - but a more detailed look shows that the
struggle for power, money and influence is putting ordinary South
Africans in the firing line.
Three-quarters into the year, 2009 has already seen 63 major service
delivery protests across the country, according to Municipal IQ.
That's more than double the previous high, in 2005.
Gauteng leads the provinces with 24 percent of the protests, followed by
the Western Cape and Mpumalanga with 19 percent.
While there is general frustration that 15 years after democracy many
people still do not have access to basic services - housing, water,
electricity, waste removal and sanitation - this has been exacerbated by
allegations that corrupt councillors have been stealing money earmarked
And while these concerns have been communicated at provincial level -
both in the government and the ANC - investigations seem to drag on
endlessly with little or no action taken against the accused. There is
also a clear lack of communication with communities, which then rely on
rumours; in the absence of salient facts, these quickly take root and
The ANC has identified local government as its Achilles heel; the
leadership has shown concern about losing political ground as the
groundswell of dissatisfaction continues unabated.
In nearly every community, people clearly differentiate between the
ANC-led national government and the "corrupt" officials in the council
offices, all of whom are ANC elected or deployed.
The ANC has placed some blame on remnants of "the previous
administration", in reference to the government under Thabo Mbeki.
In a report aimed at identifying the root causes of protests, Minister
of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka paints
a bleak picture of local government "in distress", saying this "state of
affairs has become deeply rooted within our system of governance".
"Evidence has been collected to dramatically illustrate how the
political/administrative interface has resulted in factionalism on a
scale that, in some areas, is akin to a battle over access to state
resources rather than any ideological or policy differences.
"The lack of values, principles or ethics in these cases indicates there
are officials and public representatives for whom public service is not
a concern, but accruing wealth at the expense of poor communities is,"
reads the executive report.
The poor are angry. They've waited 15 years for the better lives they
were promised... but patience has run out. They have taken to the
streets en masse, venting their frustrations over service delivery
failures with violence and mayhem. Today The Star takes a closer look at
some hot spots to get a better understanding of the root of the
At 9am on a weekday Michael Mokoena is just getting into his second
beer. As he watches his wife, Maria, washing clothes on the porch, he
laments the turn of events that has left him jobless.
"There! There! There's work," he says, pointing in the direction of the
rubbish dump spoiling the otherwise pristine Mpumalanga hillside view.
"Recession" is a word that means nothing here. It's been this way for a
while. When Wool Textile closed down. And Nestlé. And Toga. At one of
the biggest employers, Early Bird, people have been on strike for nearly
Across from Mokoena, a boy in school uniform skips stones across the
stream; a girl, hands clasped in front of her, gazes adoringly at him.
Further along the well-worn walking trails, other boys and girls make
their way home, lost in animated conversation.
But nearly as many boys in Sakhile sit outside shops and taverns,
sharing beers. "I'm already clever," one replies when asked whether they
shouldn't be in school.
The violent protests that hit headlines throughout the country were led
by boys such as these.
With glee etched on their faces as they fled from police rubber bullets,
the boys would ensure there was "action" aplenty, well after the other
protesters had gone home.
Few people here remember anything beyond a long lineage in Sakhile. They
have always been there, as had their parents and grandparents before
them, they say.
And while a prominent piece of graffiti reads "F*** the World", there
was a time when Sakhile held great hope for many, even hosting, for a
brief period, the founding father of the PAC, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.
People in Sakhile still vividly remember the brutal battles between ANC
members and a group called "Sky", something that continued until the
mid-1980s, when the battle for liberation became a greater priority.
"After 1994 we had a mayor in Standerton and this is where corruption
started," says Manqoba Nkosi, a resident.
The township's people complain about "rent", a generic term for the cost
of basic services.
Most have access to water, electricity, formal housing, waste removal
Despite the ANC's finding that the mayor and her executive had hampered
service delivery, a national Empowerdex study showed Standerton to be
the fourth-best performing municipality in the country.
"But they chow our money," retorts Barel Tshabalala, an oft-repeated
accusation that has become fact among the people of Sakhile.
On the porch, Mokoena has become increasingly suspicious of strangers,
his plastic beer bottle with the words "When you drink don't walk in the
road. You will be killed" by his side.
After a short tour of the house, where the pockmarked zinc roof sheets
let light stream into the kitchen and bundles of bedding and clothing
are strewn across the bare cement floors, Mokoena says he deserves better.
"We are not pigs, so why should we live like them?"
Maria has said nothing up to now, finally interjecting on the question
There will be no pictures of Mokoena on the porch because it's not his
It was built by her father, who got the land from his father.
Mokoena lives "los".
Palm ridge, thokoza
There is no respite from the blazing summer heat for residents of Palm
They have no electricity so fridges are useless. They must use what they
buy before the goods rot.
Like most South Africans, they use cellphones, and a business in Palm
Ridge itself is making a killing by charging residents R12 every time
they want their phone charged.
So many people use the service, says 26 year old Khanyi Mbakaza, that
"sometimes you go back for your phone and find that it has disappeared".
Mbakaza is one of the people who took part in a protest at Palm Ridge a
week ago, demanding electricity.
"At night it is very dark, even when your neighbour is being attacked
you cannot go out and help because you do not know whether accomplices
are hiding nearby.
"To recharge batteries to watch TV costs us R12 and we have to recharge
every three days. We miss important things on TV when the battery is flat.
"This is why we are toyi-toying. We are tired of paraffin which costs us
R7,50 a litre and have to use it to cook, heat water and iron clothes."
Another resident, 29-year-old Thabo Mthembu, said: "We can't do full
grocery shopping because there are no fridges to put (perishables) in.
We can't live like this."
Bongani Nkambule, one of the engineers tasked with electrifying Palm
Ridge Extension, said they were building a new substation which was 70
percent complete and were upgrading another one.
"We also have ongoing problems with some farmers who do not want to give
us permission to lay cables on their farms."
Nkambule said Palm Ridge Extension would have power by April next year.
When Dorah Rakgogo was moved to Diepsloot from Alexandra in 2001, all
she longed for was proper sanitation, electricity and running water -
She believed her life would get better when she left the banks of the
Eight years later, as the sun beats down on her iron sheet shack,
Rakgogo jumps out of bed and, within minutes, she has made half a dozen
trips to the nearest tap, which is about 50m away, to fetch water.
Nothing has changed.
There is barely enough space in her yard, so she is forced to do her
washing in the street. Grubby water streams onto the street, at times
seeping into the shacks nearby.
The stench is unbearable.
Rakgogo and other residents of Diepsloot Extension 1 call this slum
home. Two weeks ago, the residents took to the street, barricading
routes, pelting passing vehicles with stones and damaging two police
vehicles in a protest over poor service delivery.
This happened barely three months after Human Settlements Minister Tokyo
Sexwale visited the area in an attempt to quell yet another community
revolt. Diepsloot residents are demanding to be relocated because there
is not enough space for development.
"It's so degrading living here that you are even ashamed to tell people
you stay here," said Rakgogo, who stays in a single-room shack with her
husband and four children, aged 3, 6, 11 and 15.
"All we hear from our councillors is the same old story. Promises and
promises. We recently discussed inviting (President Jacob) Zuma to come
and see for himself because the councillors are failing. Sexwale came
but we haven't heard anything since he left," she said.
There is an average of one toilet to every 500 people in Extension 1.
Most of these toilets are blocked, adding to the filth and stench.
"I doubt if cholera still exists because many people here would have
died a long time ago," said resident Masindi Mulivha.
Councillor for Ward 96 Isaac Maela said plans were under way to relocate
residents to open land adjacent to Diepsloot where a settlement similar
to Cosmo City, near Randburg, had been planned.
About 9 000 housing units would be built, he said.
'We really don't care anymore about the World Cup or the stadium; all we
want is schools for our children," says Sarah Shabangu, 29.
"We have been promised that we will benefit before and after the World
Cup, but it looks like we are getting poorer and the people who are
benefiting are greedy and corrupt politicians."
The stadium is being built at Mataffin, a stone's throw from Mbombela
(Nelspruit), the capital city of Mpumalanga, on the ancestral land of
poor farmworkers. They formed the Matsafeni Trust and won back 6 000ha
of land from HL Hall & Sons in 2003.
But in 2007, they were convinced to "donate" 118 hectares to the
Mbombela Local Municipality for just R1.
This year, the community was promised R8.7 million for 67.9ha. It has
yet to get it.
The original deal was based on promises of extensive infrastructure
development at Mataffin, including the relocation and building of two
schools - John Mdluli Primary School and Cyril Clark High School - that
were demolished to make way for the stadium.
Instead, the children attend classes in crammed prefabricated Zozo huts,
which become ovens in the Lowveld heat.
For three days this month, parents and children blocked roads leading to
the stadium site with burning tyres and rocks, demanding clean water and
The police used rubber bullets and pellet guns to disperse them,
injuring some and arresting about 150.
Mataffin has about 500 houses. There is no piped water and roads have
not been maintained or upgraded.
Shabangu relies on water from a well. "Our water is being used for the
construction of the stadium and so we have no choice but to come to
these dirty holes for water."
She says promises of construction jobs for locals have not materialised.
"At the beginning people here were so happy that locals will get jobs at
the stadium, but contractors have come with their own people. So I guess
that is why we see these service delivery protests."
Phumzile Rooi, 23, who was hit by rubber bullets during the protest, has
refused to go to hospital or join other victims who intend to jointly
sue Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
"My wound will heal by itself, I hope. I won't open an assault case
against the police because the case will end up nowhere," she says.
Community leader Freddy Phiri says the residents' complaints have gone
unheard for too long.
"The only language the so-called democratic government understands is
violence. If you engage in civil dialogue with them, you are not taken
seriously. We have been gently asking for schools and improved service
delivery, and we have been lied to almost every time. The protests will
continue until we are taken seriously."
Local councillor David Mnisi says the area does not get proper service
delivery because Mataffin is still regarded as a private farm.
"The area has not even been catered for in the Integrated Development
Plan. Processes to declare the area a township are in advanced stages.
Once this (happens) people are going to get better services."
Phola park, thokoza
Fat flies buzz noisily as they feed off the rubbish dump. Oblivious to
the stench of urine and faeces, heightened by the scorching summer sun,
young children play barefoot around the dump.
The smell doesn't bother them, they are used to it.
For most of the residents of Phola Park informal settlement, "flying
toilets" is a reality - they don't have proper sanitation.
It's just one of a string of service delivery issues over which they
have taken to the streets. The others are electricity, water and housing.
"Our dignity as women has been lowered because we have to relieve
ourselves in buckets or in bushes. It leaves us open to men raping us,"
says resident committee member Zama Tshabalala.
Tshabalala and her three children live in a shack in Zola, a section of
Phola Park next to Thokoza. Living in shacks on either side of theirs,
are her sister Phindi and her brother. They decided to dig a makeshift
toilet at the back of their shacks as an alternative.
The Tshabalalas have lived in the informal settlement since 1987, when
the land was first occupied. According to a report published by the
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in the 1990s, an
independent social survey commissioned by the original Phola Park
residents committee found about 75 percent of people living there used
to be backyard dwellers in Thokoza; fed up with paying inflated rental
rates, they decided to occupy the vacant land.
Now there are mostly shacks with no electricity, running water or toilets.
The lucky few who have received RDP houses tend to exploit residents who
have no electricity.
Tshabalala and her siblings share electricity with a home owner through
an underground cable that connects to their shacks, but it is dangerous
Ward councillor Tiisetso Nketle says the only problem residents have is
a lack of electricity.
"The only thing I know is that there is no electricity," she says,
adding that there are several taps where people can get water.
But when asked for the figure, she can't say.
Residents say there is only one tap for the entire community, and when
it breaks or runs out of water, they have to beg for water from
businesses and people with RDP houses who may or may not share. And if
they do, they are charged exorbitant amounts.
"Can you imagine staying here, hanging on, hoping for a better life.
When are we going to get there?" Tshabalala asks.
ANC threatens arrests
Nomsa Maseko 26 October 2009
The ANC in Diepsloot is threatening to take the law into their own hands
by arresting the instigators of last weekend's protest.
It had organised community members and Pikitup to clean the streets on
Monday but the group received death threats and had to abandon their action.
The local ANC and residents not involved in the protest are demanding
the immediate arrest of Sanco, YCL and SACP members who looted shops,
assaulted people and blockaded roads with rocks and rubble.
Some community members say they are tired of being manipulated into
taking part in violent demonstrations, adding they can see the ANC is
doing all it can to speed up service delivery.
They have called on Community Safety MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu and Deputy
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to take action, threatening to do
citizens' arrests if that does not happen.
ANC slams 'comrade tsotsies'
Graeme Hosken 26 October 2009
The ANC has accused its alliance partners of fuelling violence for their
own political motives, following running street battles and attempts to
turn large sections of Diepsloot into no-go zones.
The so-called service protests in Diepsloot erupted into violence
yesterday when protesters, under the banner of the Young Communist
League and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) took to
The protests, which began in the early hours, saw demonstrators, whom
the ANC has accused of power-mongering, looting shops and barricading
roads with burning tyres, boulders, rubbish and refuse removal bins.
Demonstrators turned on taxi drivers, business owners and residents when
they tried to leave for work, forcing many to stay at home.
When residents and businessmen, along with taxi drivers, tried to clear
the streets, many were threatened by the demonstrators.
ANC Diepsloot chairman Chris Vondo said the demonstrations were not
related to service problems as claimed by Sanco and the youth league.
"These people are masking their real power-mongering intentions by
claiming that they are taking to the streets over a lack of services,
when in fact it is because they have aspirations of vying for ward
councillor positions during the 2011 local government elections," he said.
He said that ANC representatives, businesses, taxi associations and
street committees had taken to the streets in response to the
demonstrators' actions to remove barricades set up to make the township
a no-go zone.
"These people are operating with criminals and are using violence to
intimidate people to stay away from work and to join them. They are
nothing more than 'comrade tsotsies' and thugs who are trying to stop
children going to school and parents going to work.
Political parties accused of hidden agenda in Diepsloot
Nomsa Maseko 27 October 2009
Diepsloot residents have accused the SANCO, Young Communist League and
Communist Party of wanting to be elected as councilors during the 2011
local government elections.
They say SANCO organised a march at the weekend disguised as a service
At least five shops were looted, people were assaulted and main roads
were barricaded with rocks, burning tyres and rubble.
The ANC’s Roger Makhubele described those who organised the
demonstrations as criminals who must be punished.
“This thing has nothing to do with service delivery. It is only the
matter of people trying to position themselves for, what they call, a
2011 project,” he said.
SACP 'used' against ANC: Blade Nzimande denies his party behind the protests
NKOSANA LEKOTJOLO 25 October 2009
SA communist Party secretary-general Blade Nzimande said that those
exploiting his party's name to spark service-delivery violence are
former ANC members fighting the ruling party.
Speaking to about 200 Communist Party members at the Natalspruit
Hospital, in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, during the SACP's Red
October campaign, Nzimande said his party will expose those using its
name to gain jobs in local government.
"As the SACP, we distance ourselves from those violent protests. Poor
people are being exploited to fight battles in local government,"
"People who are not happy about the ANC have joined the SACP, not to
build the organisation but to use it to fight the ANC."
He lashed out at people in the government who have suggested that the
SACP is behind the violent service-delivery protests, saying they were
diverting attention from genuine problems.
"We condemn those who use the SACP as a scapegoat where there are real
issues in the municipalities," he said.
Nzimande's statements come more than a week after Gauteng's ANC
provincial executive committee accused Communist Party members of
sparking recent service-delivery protests in Diepsloot, northern
Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura reportedly said that the protests in
Diepsloot were organised by ANC members who had lost a local council
election and had then joined the SACP.
Nzimande took a swipe at public hospital managers, saying their
corruption should be exposed.
He said that his party would act against hospital managers who "collude"
to steal public money.
"The capitalists who run these hospitals ... don't care if we get better
or not. Their immorality is that, the more people get sick, the happier
"They are colluding to fleece public money. We encourage workers to blow
the whistle and expose them," he said.
Nzimande said the SACP was fully behind the proposed national health
He said the scheme would make the rich "pay according to their wealth"
and allow the poor and unemployed to have better healthcare.
Bloemfontein residents want Jansen to apologise
JP du Plessis 27 October 2009
Residents in Bloemfontein are calling for an apology from Free State
University Rector Jonathan Jansen after he pardoned the so-called Reitz
Four last month.
Three of the four former students, facing charges of crimina injuria,
appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
They made a humiliating initiation video involving university cleaners.
Their trial was postponed to February next year and an arrest warrant
was issued for the fourth student who missed his last two court appearances.
RC Malherbe, Johnny Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe looked relaxed as they
sat in the dock listening to their defence lawyers and state prosecutors
arguing against Magistrate Mziwonke Hinxa for a second trial postponement.
The fourth Reitz accused, Danie Grobler is in Namibia and has an arrest
warrant against his name.
The four students’ lawyers say they are willing to discuss a restorative
justice programme but this has angered protesters outside the court.
“Those little young racist boys have never come up and apologised,”
yelled a protester.
The province’s alliance structures are calling for Jansen to resign and
say they will protest to shut down the university if he does not by the
end of the week.
House calls with pliers
FARANAAZ PARKER 23 October 2009
Levy Nhlapo is perched on a plastic box outside a house in Diepkloof's
Zone 2. He is disconnecting the cables that run into an Eskom
electricity meter fixed to the outer wall. Sparks fly as he connects two
cables to each other, bypassing the meter. The wires are live. Within
minutes the lights are back on in the house and the seven shacks on its
No money has changed hands, power has been restored to the happy
residents and Eskom has just become the victim of another theft.
It is all in a day's work for Nhlapo, a self-described "volunteer
technician" with the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC). This
radical advocacy group sees itself as helping Soweto residents who are
subject to water and electricity cut-offs through non-payment of their
bills. "Technician" means someone who has been taught how to hotwire a
In Soweto, the SECC has, quite simply, made power-provision ungovernable.
The township is responsible for more than half of all the money Eskom
loses annually due to non-payment in the residential sector. The SECC is
partly the reason why.
Set up in 2000, the SECC believes in unlimited free power for all -- and
making it happen is a guerrilla-style service they provide to anyone who
cannot or will not pay his or her bills.
These latter day Robin Hoods, stealing electricity from "the rich" power
supplier to service "the poor", are of course illegal, but to date
nobody has been prosecuted. The committee has its own office, is partly
funded and believes passionately that what it does is not just correct
"A day won't go by without us getting at least 10 people complaining
that they've been cut off," says SECC spokesperson Thabo Molefe. "The
fact that we have an office shows there's a necessity for this service."
The SECC even holds regular meetings with Eskom, though to date Eskom's
pleas to them to persuade defaulters to pay have fallen on stony ground.
The SECC's office is right across the road from the Eskom branch office
on Chris Hani Street. The space is barely large enough to accommodate a
desk, two chairs and a photocopy machine.
The committee relies on membership fees -- R5 paid annually -- and
occasional assistance from NGOs such as the Johannesburg-based Rosa
Luxemburg Foundation and War On Want (United Kingdom).
When a resident whose power has been cut arrives, often flapping a huge
bill, it is time for Nhlapo to grab his pliers and pay a house call.
"We're giving back what people are owed: a better life for all," says
Nhlapo, who is not paid for his work but is a passionate believer in the
cause. On the way to his next job, he tells the Mail & Guardian that he
has also reconnected a local doctor's surgery, crèches and churches and,
on occasion, small businesses.
The SECC's mission statement is to hold government to the African
National Congress's (ANC) 2000 municipal election campaign's promise of
free basic water and electricity.
The fine print says that only 50kWh of electricity per qualifying
household is free. This is enough to provide basic lighting and to power
a small monochrome TV, a radio, an iron and a kettle. Any additional
power used is subject to standard tariffs.
There are seven one-room shacks clustered around the house on the
Diepkloof plot where Nhlapo is working this morning. Because they live
in informal housing, the families can't access the free electricity. So
they pay rent to the homeowner and piggy-back off her electricity supply.
When she defaulted on her payments, her supply was cut. The "landlady"
declined to be interviewed about whether electricity is included in the
rents she charges her tenants.
Eskom's condemnation of the SECC's theft of electricity shows how
powerless they are in this situation. While they say reconnections like
the ones the SECC performs are "illegal and not condoned", Eskom meets
the SECC every few months -- sometimes at the SECC's own office.
Eskom describes its relationship with the SECC in bland bureaucratic
terms. Says Norah Mmusi, an Eskom communications manager: "Our
engagement with the SECC, like any of our stakeholders, has been in
existence for some time."
Hero or villain, the SECC's actions have far-reaching consequences. Last
week Carte Blanche revealed that a confidential business report leaked
to trade union Solidarity showed that Eskom annually loses 35% of its
residential sector revenue because of theft. This means that
R2,8-billion is lost through non-payment nationally, with Soweto
accounting for more than R1,8-billion.
In a paper presented to the South African National Energy Association,
electricity expert Chris Yelland said illegal electricity usage amounts
to 10% of the national demand. "Now Eskom is asking us to save 10%, but
if it could prevent theft and non-payment, we wouldn't have a crisis."
But Eskom has been unable to achieve anything like this and the game
goes on. In between meeting the SECC, Eskom goes round removing the
SECC's illegally wired connectors. Says Mmusi: "Where illegal
connections are detected, Eskom immediately removes them because they
pose serious risks to people's lives. These connections are extremely
dangerous because they are usually made with incorrect wiring."
The SECC simply returns later on and reconnects the supply. Thabo Molefe
is adamant that there have never been any deaths or injuries as a result
of the organisation's activities. "We don’t believe illegal
reconnections affect the economy, or whatever is happening in Eskom,"
says Molefe. He maintains that the SECC's volunteers are not izinyoka,
or cablethieves. "We are different because electricity was already
installed in your house. We're just reconnecting it."
Eskom may not view the situation in quite the same light, but says it's
prepared to keep talking. It has no choice. "This is a process of
engagement and educating one another and as such is continuing and
unfolding," says Mmusi. "All possible solutions are explored."
The SECC's approach is more direct. "This thing will go on until Jesus
comes," says Nhlapo. "We're not prepared to wait for Jesus."
Tariff hike may be death knell for schools
Schools in poor communities may be forced to close if Eskom gets its
proposed 45% tariff hike in the next three years.
Salamina Tau, principal of Radineo Primary in Mabopane, Tshwane, says
her school is already struggling to pay its R8 400 annual electricity bill.
"If Eskom increases its tariffs the school will collapse because we have
learners who already don't pay school fees," she says.
Of the 480 learners, only about 180 can cover the R90 annual levy. Some
families survive on the government's child support grant, whereas
learners who are orphans are exempt from paying, says Tau.
"We could try to increase the fees but the response from the parents
won't be great. Perhaps they would agree to a R10 increase," she says.
Schools need parents' consent to raise fees.
This year Radineo was allocated a R25 000 government subsidy for
services such as electricity and water. But Tau says this money is also
used to "patch up" the gaps left by non-payment of fees.
Radineo is not an isolated case. The Mail & Guardian spoke to a member
of the governing body of a school in Mamelodi, Tshwane, who asked not to
The school, which has 317 learners, many with special needs, faces an
annual electricity and water bill of R300 000. If Eskom gets its
proposed increase, the bill would increase to R475 000 in the first
year, R700 000 in the second year, before reaching almost R1-million in
the third year.
Like Radineo, about 50% of learners are already not paying school fees.
-- Karabo Keepile
Uneasy calm in Diepsloot following service delivery protest
Rahima Essop (Eyewitness News) 26 October 2009
There is an uneasy calm in Diepsloot in northern Johannesburg following
a service delivery protest on Saturday.
Angry residents blockaded roads with rocks and burning tyres in
extension one and seven.
They took to the streets after community leaders informed them that
local authorities were not allowing their planned march to go ahead.
The community is up in arms over alleged corruption in the municipality
and a lack of development.
Police have confirmed that two people were arrested for public violence.
Reconciliation se voet! vow as anger grows
Thabiso Thakali, Kashiefa Ajam and Sheree Bega
(The Saturday Star) 24 October 2009
Political parties and student bodies are preparing for battle in
They say the troubled University of Free State (UFS) will be rendered
"ungovernable" when the so-called Reitz Four - Roelof Malherbe, Johnny
Roberts, Schalk van der Merwe and Danie Grobler - appear in the
Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Monday to face charges of crimen injuria.
The four are accused of filming a mock initiation of five black cleaners
into Reitz hostel activities in 2007.
The decision by the UFS's new vice-chancellor, Professor Jonathan
Jansen, to pardon them and welcome them back to the university has drawn
fury from several quarters.
This week it emerged that Jansen did not consult the cleaners - Nkgapeng
Adams, Emmah Koko, Mothibedi Molete, Mankoe Phororo and Sebuasengwe
Ntlatseng - before he made his decision.
Buti Manamela, the national secretary of the Young Communist's League,
warned that its members would blockade the institution and "render that
university ungovernable" on Monday.
"Reconciliation se voet! Jansen should send a message to those who still
behave like they stay in a cage that he will not tolerate such
(behaviour). Giving an olive branch to the Ku Klux Klan cannot be that
lesson," he warned.
The Progressive Youth Alliance said yesterday that it would mobilise as
many members it could to show its defiance against Jansen's decision.
"We call on all those who hate racism to join us as we will be marching
to UFS. We are more than ready to challenge the decision and further
expose the university management, as led by Jansen, that they have not
changed their racial inclination in their daily operation."
UFS spokeswoman Lacea Loader said they were aware of the planned
protest, but had not made any arrangements to counter any disruption.
"We will assess the situation on Monday and put measures in place when
it becomes necessary," she said.
The ANC in the Free State and its alliance partners will picket at the
court, according to the party's provincial spokesman, Teboho Sikisi.
A protest march to the university was planned for Friday next week.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, Mthunzi
Mhaga, told the Saturday Star yesterday that the State was likely to
apply for a postponement on Monday.
"We need to consider representations submitted on behalf of the
accused," he said.
This comes after the lawyer for the Reitz four, Christo Dippenaar, asked
that the charges be dropped.
Medupe Simasiku, on behalf of the Free State Director of Public
Prosecutions, said: "There can be a lot of pressure (on the director)
due to the decision made by the university. We have the ways and means
to deal with this in a manner that is comfortable to both sides."
Dippenaar said yesterday that his clients were preparing for court.
"I think it will be a surprise for us on Monday. We don't know what he
(the judge) will do - whether he will continue the case or drop the charges.
"I think he will also be under pressure like Jansen ... to continue the
case. We are ready for that," Dippenaar said.
By Thabiso Thakali, Kashiefa Ajam and Sheree Bega
The Saturday Star 24/10/09
Riverlea calm after protest
Sapa October 23 2009
Riverlea was quiet on Friday morning following a service delivery
protest which resulted in injuries to one person and the arrest of 12
others, Johannesburg police said.
"Police were monitoring the situation, but it's been quiet today
[Friday]," said Inspector Gordon Billing at around noon.
On Thursday, police were caught by surprise when protesters began
demonstrating from 4am.
Police resorted to firing rubber bullets at the crowd when they became
"We were caught by surprise this morning. We were not aware of any
protest," Billing said at the time.
Police said the protests on Nasrec Road near Soccer City, a major 2010
World Cup venue, were apparently over poor service delivery, including
lack of housing.
Protesters pelted cars with stones and blocked the road with burning
tyres and rocks.
One protester was injured when police fired rubber bullets.
Billing could not say exactly how many people turned out to protest.
The arrested protesters were expected to appear in court on Monday.
Efforts to solicit comment from City of Joburg officials were not
immediately successful. - Sapa
Sakhile’s empty victory
Sandile Memela, Thoughtleader
Retired former liberation heroes (like Nelson Mandela) and struggle
stalwarts now turned into government ministers (like Trevor Manuel)
cannot enjoy the sight of upheavals like those in Sakhile township near
Standerton, Mpumalanga or Khutsong in Carltonville.
Can you believe the number of disgruntled people who want the world to
believe that our democratic government is a failure? Ironically, the
people who lead and are out to protest against alleged poor service
delivery are from the ruling party, some highly politicised NGOs and, of
course, some jobless and poor guys from the local communities.
They really are very good at creating a ruckus.
As we speak, there are deep rumbles of discontent in communities like
KwaThema and Riverlea in Gauteng (and perhaps in other provinces) who
are getting ready to explode into self-destructive violence because of
alleged poor service delivery or rampant corruption in the indifferent
Well, no one has exactly presented a comprehensive report of rampant
corruption with specifics but there is this widespread view that
councillors, senior management and officials in the municipal office are
helping themselves to money that should go to service delivery. This has
resulted in the political leadership, mostly from the ANC, being accused
of mismanagement, nepotism, embezzlement of funds and betraying the
expectations of the people.
In places like Sakhile, for instance, many of the councillors were
forced to abandon their homes and are now regarded as the enemies of the
To make matters worse, at least seven councillors — including the mayor,
speaker and chief whip — have been forced to join the ranks of the
unemployed following increasing pressure from the protesters who staged
a march to council offices and demanded action from Luthuli House.
The whole world watched scenes of some of the protesters pulling down
telephone kiosks, signage and chanting what were supposed to be new
In Sakhile, there was a bespectacled young man who was screaming into a
news mike and demanding that all the councillors must resign or be
killed. Of course, the councillors and other government officials were
nowhere to be seen as they had scuttled away in fear of being murdered
in broad day light by the marauding crowds.
Despite the fact that this is a democratic country with structures to
address grievances, the grassroots are not interested in constructive
I would assume that former political prisoners like Nelson Mandela and
former exiles like former president Thabo Mbeki, who have used
negotiations to solve problems, find their gyrations before television
cameras quite a disappointing sight.
It is not amusing to watch people burn down libraries and destroy state
property simply because they are impatient and angry. These protesters
have a violent streak that threatens the lives of legitimately elected
leaders and their families.
In fact, they are not willing to listen to anyone … except President
Jacob Zuma. It would seem that he is the only credible leader who can
calm them down and make them see reason.
Undoubtedly, the high point of these alleged service-delivery protests
is that they are a symptom of a breakdown in communication. What is
disappointing is that the people are not willing to inform and educate
themselves about the requirements of the new times in democracy. For
God’s sake, there are structures and processes in place.
But they don’t want to listen or try new ways to get their concerns
addressed. The new times of freedom and democracy demand that
dissatisfied people must engage in discussion instead of resorting to
There is no point to service-delivery protests that leave community
institutions and structures burnt down to the ground. It is not
radicalism to seek out councillors, drag them out of homes and offices
only to stone them to death.
If people are not happy with leadership, they must vote them out and
elect people that they believe will give them what they want.
Otherwise, township protests have become a boring, monotonous and
predictable cycle of self-destruction and wanton violence. Perhaps no
one can dismiss the genuine concerns and grievances of the grassroots
people. But where is the self-respect and dignity in the new forms of
“struggle”, if we can call it that?
Why must people burn down libraries and destroy property and other
amenities that are part of the reconstruction and development programme?
Where is this hate and self-destruction taking the sought-after service
delivery, progress and development? Today, the “struggle”, if one can
call it that has lost direction and meaning.
In fact, the poor have no leaders except people who want to replace
those they charge to be corrupt. But in saying this, I am not taking
away the right of the people to protest or express their grievances.
However, we ALL — rich or poor — need to understand that freedom entails
responsibility. The so-called service delivery protests need leaders who
will make grassroots people understand that their struggle will be
meaningless and discredited unless they exercise their right to protest
with self-restraint and dignity.
People who have no respect for human life or state and private property
This democracy works.
As has been shown by the example of the recall of former president Thabo
Mbeki, the citizens can remove a leadership that does not fulfil their
But, for God’s sake, spare us the violence and wanton destruction of
lives and property.
People who are prone to unnecessary violence and murder are not free,
but irresponsible criminals.
The poor must stop this self-destructive war against themselves.
bToss out uncivil servants:It is time that a more autocratic
approach be taken on public employees
It is time that a more autocratic approach be taken on public employees
By PROFESSOR DANIEL PLAATJIES 25 Octo0ber 2009
A constitutional democracy provides opportunities through elections for
political parties to capture power and authority within the government
and the state.
quote 'Corruption is mostly committed by public servants and not
The winning political party puts together a government that in turn
captures the state and its institutions - departments, public entities
and parastatals, including defence and security.
The logic is that the victorious political party instructs and directs
the government. The government in turn manages and controls state
institutions and resources.
It is therefore nonsense - as has been suggested in a range of political
columns and opinion pieces - that the political party has no influence
on, or control over, its elected officials within the government and the
legislatures. The government - comprising a political party - determines
what the state does. The state is therefore consumed by the logic of
The responsibility for political accountability in the government is
that of the elected and appointed party officials, thus ensuring that,
through state institutions, the government will deliver on its election
To achieve this, the party - through government - is required by
political and elected conventions to influence, control and manage the
modus operandi of the state. But who and what must be kept accountable
for the operational performance of the state at all levels of government?
This is at the heart of the principle of managing the operations of the
state. The principle is that the government puts in place state
machinery that upholds not only the country's constitution, but also
implements the values, norms and standards set by the winning political
The accounting officer and his management teams are the strategic
If the public is dissatisfied, the top management team of the state at
all levels - the principals - must be held accountable, especially for
failure to deliver services. This accountability is the ultimate measure
Management must ensure operational mechanisms and procedures are in
place to quickly deliver quality services and products to the public.
Management must also detect inefficiencies, graft and fraud risks, given
that corruption and fraud is mostly committed by public servants, not
politicians. Senior managers who use the public service merely to get a
salary must be identified.
Recent statements by Sicelo Shiceka, the minister of co-operative
governance and traditional affairs, place public servants at the centre
of the state's ability to manage service delivery and resources. The
public and politicians can therefore legitimately demand - and deserve
nothing less than - competent employees who possess the requisite skills
and political acumen.
Not having these capabilities increases the propensity to waste public
resources, especially through salaries paid to incompetent public
servants. In fact, many senior managers outsource their responsibilities
to expertise outside the public service.
Politicians must therefore not have bleeding hearts and try to save
those who are incompetent, underqualified and lazy.
Building capacity within state institutions demands political leadership
that promotes prudent public service delivery, management and, in
particular, financial governance. The strong, no-nonsense leadership
demonstrated by President Jacob Zuma and Shiceka is definitely what the
Given the service-delivery protests and claims of corruption and fraud
committed by public servants, it is conceivable that a more autocratic
approach to the delivery and management of the public service is required.
Public servants should not be allowed any leeway when it comes to
delivering on their performance agreements. This autocratic approach has
delivered results in countries such as Singapore, Thailand and China,
and in the next decade South Africa will require such autocracy in the
pursuit of service delivery, in managing the public service and state
resources, and in democracy for the public.
To deliver such a civil service, trade unions must acknowledge that the
way workers' rights are exercised often compromise state entities and
institutions. Especially in the public service, trade unions will have
to demonstrate a balance between suspending or ceding their leverage
over state institutions for the sake of the nation.
Why must politicians be accountable for bad service, systems and
behaviour and not their sometimes overpaid top managers? These people
are not only the strategic operational principals of services, but also
the delivery agents, so they must be held to account.
The public service is key in expanding economic and social development
opportunities. It must continue to serve in the battle against social
deprivation by ensuring an agile public service with good facilities and
So, let the real servants of the public stand up and be praised for
their unselfish contributions. The political party, government, and the
state must release those comprehensively underqualified, incompetent
* Plaatjies is director of Wits Public and Development Management.
Replacing rot with results
Sunday Tribune 25 October 2009
MUCH hand-wringing and little action sums up the crisis of the country's
municipalities in recent days.
All the talking has done little to inspire confidence that President
Jacob Zuma's cabinet and the ANC have any answers.
There is general agreement effective local government is critical for
the development of our country and democracy.
Daunting challenges include endemic corruption among councillors;
political in-fighting linked to the scramble for the spoils of public
office; and little concern for the plight of residents.
These councillors interfere in the work of officials, ignore the need to
maintain infrastructure, have little idea of how to go about developing
their towns and have poor financial management skills.
Disgracefully, many municipal officials are simply incompetent and lack
the basic skills to do their jobs. We need civil engineers, town
planners, and all the other expert staff taxpayers pay for.
Huge amounts have been wasted by political appointees on cars, perks and
frivolous projects. Studies show many councils are bankrupt and
incapable of delivering water, electricity or waste disposal services.
While Zuma lashed communities who burn down councillors' homes and
barricade streets, the ANC's firing of Standerton's mayor shows violent
protest gets results. Now expectations have been raised that lives will
change for the better. But if talking replaces delivery, the ANC will
face a backlash.