Gogo raked over the coals after talking to the SABC

2012-04-14 16:18

An Eastern Cape granny is living in fear after being harangued by local municipal ­councillors, who accuse her of bringing their town into disrepute.

The only crime 84-year-old Ntombentsha Phama committed was welcoming a TV news camera crew into her home and speaking about her plight. She had hoped Good ­Samaritans would come to help her fix her house, which was damaged by hail in 2010.

Instead, the resident of Seshego village in Dutywa earned herself a visit from a delegation of ruling party councillors.

Sent by Mbhashe Local Municipality Mayor Nonceba Mfecane, they berated her for airing her dirty laundry in public.

During a second visit, this time with Mfecane in tow, Phama was again scolded, given two blankets and a business card, and told to call the mayor – not the media – when she had problems.

The drama started on Wednesday, the day after the bulletin containing Phama’s story was aired nationwide. Local Ward 2 councillor Nosakhele Nkqwiliso, acting on Mfecane’s orders, visited Phama and verbally attacked her to such an extent that she fainted. Bystanders alleged the ANC councillor arrived in a 15-car convoy with supporters to grill Phama for alerting media to her situation.

“I tried to tell them this was done by a neighbour who was visiting here in December. I allowed them into my home because I really wanted help,” Phama said this week.

“They said they were shocked about my situation and that I should have rushed to the municipality to ask for help. They were all over me, shouting at me, and I just couldn’t take it any more . . . I did not know anything about the damage I was causing.”

Phama lives with her six-year-old great- grandchild in her crumbling four-roomed mud house. Because of damage to the roof, which was totally lifted by recent heavy storms, the two sleep in the kitchen.

“Before December there was no roof over my bedroom, and water used to come all the way up to window level there. Things were difficult for us. They’re upset because I did not tell them about this, but what about all the meetings we attended and told them about our challenges.

“Why did they stay away for so many months? Now they are angry when other people want to work.”

The Cape Town woman who alerted SABC’s Touching Lives initiative to Phama’s plight asked not to be named for fear that her family in the village would be intimidated by the councillor.

She was angered by the town’s reaction. When she visited her in-laws last December, she came across Phama’s home.

“It can’t be that a person from Cape Town must eventually take action when the municipality is there. This is the reason they are elected: to look after the defenceless.”

Nkqwiliso denied verbally attacking Phama and said the old woman had been told that a mayoral delegation was on its way.

“I don’t understand these allegations. We told her she is in the group that will get ­temporary zinc structures. After that, storm disaster management funding made available for Mbhashe could only service 150 households, and we’ve been waiting for them ever since,” she said. 

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