Tatane didn’t die in vain

2014-05-11 15:00

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Andries Tatane died fighting for water.

His friend Mokete Mohlakoana, who was also at the forefront of the service-delivery ­protest that day three years ago, says ­although they still don’t have the best water supply in the Setsoto municipality, he is ­satisfied that his friend did not die in vain.

At the moment, the Setsoto municipality is constructing the area’s largest reservoir, with a capacity of 10 megalitres. It was supposed to have been completed in September last year, but is still not finished due to the poor quality of the cement used by the previous contractor.

The tender had to be re-evaluated and the project was due to be completed at the end of last month?–?it has still not been done.

Municipal manager Tshepiso Ramakarane told City Press he had laid fraud charges against the previous contractor last year. Eight dockets were opened and police were still ­investigating, he added.

The new water reservoir was just one of the projects the municipality undertook to ensure that no more water ­protests took place on the dusty streets of Meqheleng, ­Tatane’s hometown.

Mohlakoana said: “Water has always been the issue. But now we have improvements to the water treatment plant and the new reservoir. These improvements only came ­because of Tatane’s death.”

Politics in the area is not really such a hot topic despite the upcoming elections.

Joseph Mokoaledi, current affairs producer for community radio station Setsoto FM (SFM), said the ANC did not have much competition in the area.

“Most of the wards are run by the ANC. People were very angry after Tatane died. They called in to current affairs ­programmes at SFM complaining about the shooting, but now things have settled down,” he said.

“People now call in to talk about the lack of employment opportunities and the growing criminal activity in the area.”

Just outside Ficksburg, in the nearby town of Marquard, the community is grappling with the problems Meqheleng had before ­Tatane’s death?–?they use bucket toilets and have a sporadic water supply.

Two years ago, residents also took to the streets in protest to demand water and proper sanitation. They burnt down the municipal offices, set alight water tanks and burnt tyres in a bid to be heard.

A woman who asked not to be named because she is afraid of her local councillors said: “Before they finally made the taps work, we had to walk for about two hours to buy water from the farmers. It was R1 a bucket. I don’t work so I could not afford it. We would have to use as little water as possible. But now things are a little better.”

On the other side of the township, 74-year-old Modieahi Molehe said she had visitors during the December holidays. They used the bucket in her toilet and it has not been ­collected for weeks.

“I’ve been using the bucket system since 1992. It’s a ­difficult life we live, especially when they don’t come and collect the bucket,” she says.

“When it’s full, we have to go to the bush to relieve ­ourselves and at night we have to ask our neighbours to use their toilet. This is not healthy for human beings.”

Ramakarane said the municipality was working hard to ensure that the community’s needs were met.

“There is a lot of development under way, but we still have challenges. Money is always an issue, but we are doing our best to make sure that issues are being addressed.”

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