On the 15th of October, the people of Bekkersdal decided to take the power into their own hands, perhaps inspired by the Cell C tag line (The network is challenging its bigger competitors for anti competitive behaviour). The reason the people feel powerless? No service delivery. But what is service delivery? Is it just giving people access to water, electricity, waste removal or is there more to it?
One of the first rights on South Africa's constitution is the right to the protection of human dignity. This was made prominent due to the need to correct Apartheid's injustices especially against black people. Dignity cannot be taken from someone, so why do people want someone else to protect their dignity? The person in this case is the ANC-led government.
Service delivery is the essence of people wanting to be taken seriously enough to be considered in the running of their communities. In the case of Bekkersdal, the protest stems from a sudden increase in the cost of a grave site, from R270 to R2000. To the outsider, this may seem like a petty thing to protest against, but to a community ravaged by HIV, unemployment, poverty and teenage pregnancy, every cent counts.
So if you find yourself wondering where Bekkersdal is, look to the forgotten West Rand of Gauteng, where heroes are nameless and faceless, who go deep into the centre of the Earth to dig for gold, only to return to a place filled with dirt, greed and lack of opportunity.
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