Ward grinds to a halt

2017-06-14 06:02
The heart of Galeshewe, Seochoareng Circle, came to a complete standstill during the early hours of Tuesday morning (13/06), when fed-up residents of Riemvasmaak of Galeshewe’s Ward 7 took the streets and blocked all roads leading onto the busy Pick n Pay Circle.Photos: Boipelo Mere

The heart of Galeshewe, Seochoareng Circle, came to a complete standstill during the early hours of Tuesday morning (13/06), when fed-up residents of Riemvasmaak of Galeshewe’s Ward 7 took the streets and blocked all roads leading onto the busy Pick n Pay Circle.Photos: Boipelo Mere

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The heart of Galeshewe, Seochoareng Circle, came to a complete standstill in the early hours of Tuesday morning (13/06) when fed-up residents of Riemvasmaak of Galeshewe’s Ward 7 took to the streets and barricaded all roads leading onto the busy Pick n Pay circle.

Shops on the busy intersection had to stay closed in fear of angry protesters. Commuters were left stranded, as no taxis could enter the area either.

The protest, in which tyres were burnt and trees, rocks and other materials were used to block roads, was triggered by the failure of the mayor of Sol Plaatje, Mangaliso Matika, to show up at a planned meeting in Riemvasmaak on Monday evening.

Residents claim they were provoked to take to the streets as early as four in the morning after their ward councillor, Pulane Kwagile, claimed to have no idea as to why Matika had pulled a no-show.

The community demands answers regarding service delivery within the area.People claim to have been approved back in 2011, when their land was surveyed and they were promised that some of them would be shifted to new land.

They want to be included in the local government IDP plan, as they claim to have been too patient with the municipality while other informal settlements received attention from the municipality only after burning tyres.

“All we are asking is for bulk services and for dignity to be restored to us.

“We have been doing all the homework that the municipality instructed us to do since 2013, when we got a court order from the Hight Court to stay here. The mayor used to visit us when he was still the speaker and make promises,” said Carlos Admarel, community chairperson.

“After the land survey, we were informed that only a portion of the land we are living on is suitable for living, thus we agreed to some of the shacks being relocated.”

According to Admarel, they also demand clarity as to whether they belong to Ward 5 or 7.

“We are tired of relieving ourselves in buckets, there are not even toilets available to empty the buckets in. Our children get infections from all the unhygienic conditions we live in,” shouted one protestor, Sellwane Tla­ding.

“We are the only informal settlement that never, ever burnt tyres and have been waiting too patiently,” added Admarel.

“We realised that indeed it is true that this is the only language that our leaders understand before they pay attention to their voters.”

The protest was hijacked by disgruntled residents from other wards who also block more roads entering the circle, like Seleke Street.

Residents of Seleke complained of the sewage that continued to overflow in their yards, and that the municipality continued to send officials to monitor this and as a result charged them for the repairs.

The mayor delayed a trip to Durban to go and address the protesters. He promised to hold a meeting with them next Thursday, 22 June, to discuss a way forward.

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