Ernest Wolmarans
1 minute read
20 Aug 2014
1:12 pm

Riverlea protests to continue until govt ‘takes notice’

Ernest Wolmarans

Protests in Riverlea, Soweto continued on Wednesday with police periodically chasing a small group of protesters, composed mainly of children.

On 19 August in the wake of ongoing service delivery protest in Riverlea, Johannesburg, the local children who didn't attend school as teachers were frightened to come to the blockaded area, could be found playing a form of what they considered a treasure hunt for empty bullet shell casings that were scattered along the street and under burnt tires. Picture: Valentina Nicol

Parents in the embattled suburb took to the streets on Monday, with their children in tow. Many had refused their children admission to school – a situation that continued on Wednesday.

At issue, said resident Beulah Koopman, was the lack of development of the suburb despite its 55 year existence.

The community’s grievances extended across every sphere of service delivery – from sporadic provision of water and electricity, insufficient housing and schools infrastructure,  to social issues such as high unemployment, high drug use among the youth and high crime levels.

Of utmost concern Koopman said, was the sense of hopelessness fostered by the youth of Riverlea.

“We have kids who work hard to get their matrics, but then there are no jobs. Riverlea is supposed to be part of Soweto but where is the development? Where is government?” she said.

“Our youth is not part of South Africa, we are not even recognised on the map. As far as coloured communities go, we’re right at the bottom.”

Students from Riverlea Secondary School, the only high school in the area, said they endured sub-standard teaching and facilities, from classrooms to sporting facilities.

“Our classrooms are falling apart and we don’t even have sports grounds. We have so many (students) with such potential in academics and sport but they will never realise it. Now is (supposed to be) our time to shine,” said one student.

Residents said that the protests would continue for as long as it took “for government to notice”.