South Africa 31.3.2014 06:00 am

Take us seriously, says Bekkersdal residents

FILE PHOTO: Police fire rubber bullets at residents at point blank range,13 March 2014, in Bekkersdal, Westonaria. Residents protested by blocading streets and pelting police cars over a ellection campaign planned by the ANC. Picture: Alaister Russell

FILE PHOTO: Police fire rubber bullets at residents at point blank range,13 March 2014, in Bekkersdal, Westonaria. Residents protested by blocading streets and pelting police cars over a ellection campaign planned by the ANC. Picture: Alaister Russell

David Baijane, who has lived in the notorious township of Bekkersdal for the past 47 years, says little has been done to develop the area.

Situated to the west of Johannesburg, Bekkersdal has been making headlines since late last year following violent protests by angry residents who want the Westonaria local municipality disbanded.

Residents of the area have accused the municipality’s mayor, Nonkoliso Tundzi, of nepotism and maladministration.

Speaking to The Citizen, Baijane said government had “forgotten about Bekkersdal”.

The people who lived there continue to live in bad conditions, Baijane he said.

“Some still do not have access to proper sanitation, electricity and the roads are in a terrible state.”

He accused leaders of failing to fulfill the promises they made just before elections.

Crime has also become a serious problem in the community, with young, unemployed people having nothing to do.

“It is about time government takes residents’ concerns seriously,” he said.

“[Political leaders] must not be provocative by coming here with guns – they must rather come here as human beings who [are prepared to] listen to the grievances of their fellow human beings.”

During the first voter registration weekend late last year, disgruntled residents threatened not to allow Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials into the area unless residents’ demands were met.

At that time, a number of IEC officials had to be escorted out of the area in police armoured personnel carriers.

In recent weeks, senior ANC officials and other party officials have been chased out of the area by residents who vowed not to allow the party to campaign or to conduct door-to-door visits in the area.

With a general election scheduled on May 7, Baijane called on residents to allow people wanting to cast their votes to do so.

Reports that IEC officials hadbeen told to stay our of the area indicated that the ANC could expect a negative reaction from people in Bekkersdal, political analyst Professor Andre Duvenhage said.

However, the party remained the favourite to retain Gauteng in the general elections on May 7.

“There is no question that Bekkersdal is facing serious challenges of service delivery,” Professor Duvenhage said.

However, he advised residents to take part in the elections.

“Reacting in a violent manner,

or trying to destablise the electoral process, would not be acceptable,” he added.

 

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