Harrismith and Ficksburg

2011-04-23 20:03

In 2004 Nthabiseng Moloi lived in a zinc shack with no running water or electricity.

Seven years later she is stuck in the same situation in Intabazwe township, near Harrismith.

She was there when in August 2004 residents took to the streets to protest against a lack of housing, roads, water, electricity and other services.

That protest, which led to the death of 17-year-old Tebogo Mkhonza, has not brought any changes to the lives of residents.

They still travel to the outskirts of the township to draw water from communal taps and collect firewood for fuel.

Moloi is unemployed.

When it rains her shack gets flooded. In the winter, when it snows in the Drakensberg, she is forced to make countless trips to collect firewood to help keep her family warm.

Intabazwe forms part of the Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality, which is one of the largest in Free State. It also has one of the highest poverty and population levels in the country.

This week workers paved the streets as part of government’s Expanded Public Works Programme.

While some residents dismiss this as a ploy to win votes for the ANC-led municipality, others say it is a welcome sign of progress that has also offered locals employment.

Some changes include the conversion of two-roomed houses to four-roomed dwellings.

Also, RDP houses were built in the western part of Intabazwe, but residents say it’s not enough to meet the housing backlog, which since 1994 has resulted in mushrooming squatter camps.

June Radebe, of the Greater Harrismith Socio-Development Forum and a member of the community policing forum, says crime has increased as a result of unemployment and the lack of street lights.

“We have been forgotten,” says Radebe. “In 2004 we marched, but very little has happened.”

» Two weeks ago Andries Tatane was killed when residents of Meqheleng, near Ficksburg, marched to protest against bad service delivery.

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