‘What freedom after 22 years?’

2016-05-11 06:00
ON Freedom Day at the Ouhuiskammertjies are from the left, front: Danella Boogstander, Duncan Neelse, Prinsie Pietbooi, Riaan Pienaar, Leshandre Bitterbos and Felicity Pienaar cleaning the tripe; back: Alta Neelse, Leonardein Struis, Marthia Poni, Sandile Pienaar and Cindy Pienaar. Photos: Boipelo Mere

ON Freedom Day at the Ouhuiskammertjies are from the left, front: Danella Boogstander, Duncan Neelse, Prinsie Pietbooi, Riaan Pienaar, Leshandre Bitterbos and Felicity Pienaar cleaning the tripe; back: Alta Neelse, Leonardein Struis, Marthia Poni, Sandile Pienaar and Cindy Pienaar. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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“WHAT freedom,” was the response from Felicity Pienaar (36) while focusing on the tripe that she was cleaning for which she expected to get paid to put food on her table.

She shares a one-roomed house in Ouhuiskammertjies in Hopetown with eight other family members.

Her housemates include their children between the ages of one and 15 years. Thus, she explains, she had no choice but to extend the room with a shack.

Express Northern Cape paid a visit to Ouhuiskammertjies on Freedom Day just after the celebration at the Steynville Stadium.

The visit was triggered by the remarks made by Northern Cape premier, Sylvia Lucas, regarding the poor living conditions there.

Lucas highlighted how the residents of Ouhuiskammertjies were still faced with the challenge of sharing communal toilets and taps, a faulty drainage system and overcrowding.

She expressed her disappointment with the Thembelihle Municipality regarding lack of service delivery in Hopetown. She also referred to the high rate of unemployment and substance abuse, especially amongst the youth.

Although the venue of the celebration, the Steynville Stadium, is not far from where Pienaar lives, she and a few other neighbours did not attend the event as she felt she had nothing to celebrate after 22 years of freedom.

They have been living here for at least 12 years and explain that they have been the most neglected residents in Hopetown.

While she was busy elaborating on her living conditions, more of her neighbours were gathering inside the small house to give their input.

She pointed to the communal tap that was a problem to her as it was basically on her doorstep.

“We are expected to be grateful to have water, but this tap causes problems for us because it is being used by all of us, including the children.

“The water continues to flood into the house because the foundation is low inside,” Pienaar explained.

“Complainig to our local municipality does not help us in any way because we have an independent mayor, Danny Jonas, while the municipality is being run by the ANC.”

The residents complain that their poor living conditions continue to be used by politicians to campaign, including Lucas.

“She was here earlier on 10 April to check on our living conditions and promised us improvements.

“The only improvement that was made here was for the rubbish to be collected. She only did that because she came for the celebration.”

The residents complained about the faulty communal toilets that they had been forced to use for years on end.

They say the toilets are an insult to their dignity.

“We are expected to maintain and fix the toilets ourselves.

“The sad part is that some of us are unemployed and cannot afford to fix them.

“And when you go there and find them all locked, you have to use the old toilets that do not have roofing and doors.

“Imagine if seven households decide to lock the seven toilets, where will the rest go? There are 22 households that have to share those filthy toilets.”

The residents further complained about the lack of job opportunites.

“You see this ‘afval’ that I have just cleaned, I am not even going to taste it. To me it is just a job that I get paid for to clean, because I cannot afford to buy it.

“The majority of us depend on child grants to survive.

“We also end up being confused as to which political party we have to support to be recognised,” said the concerned residents.

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