Hear us, Mr President

2014-09-30 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents cannot wait to welcome President Jacob Zuma to the city today — they have plenty to tell him when they meet at the presidential imbizo.

“Why is he not coming here [to Glenwood] so we could tell him?” asked Stella Dennis on learning that Zuma will be holding the imbizo at the DUT Ndumiso campus.

“He should be coming to city hall … he should hold that meeting where all the people could attend,” she continued.

Dennis is one of many residents canvassed by The Witness on what they would say to Zuma if given the chance.

Residents said they would raise issues including crime, substance abuse, neglect of the elderly and the increasing cost of living.

Government officials said there had been numerous complaints relayed through the presidential hotline from parts of the city, including Slangspruit.

These included poor construction of government houses, abuse of vulnerable pupils and that a Pietermaritzburg municipal councillor is trying to evict children from a house after improperly buying it from their uncle.

Dennis said Glenwood lacked development. “There are no playgrounds here; children play on the street and some have been knocked down … we do not even have a reliable postal service.”

Pelham resident Derrick Gordon said the cost of living was increasing “terrifyingly”. He said he contemplated selling his house and moving into a complex where the cost would be more manageable.

Basie Marais of Woodlands said pensioners should get consideration, especially with water. “This month, I am paying R2 000 on electricity alone … I have other accounts that still need to be paid.”

David Maistry of Northdale said the government should look more closely at helping the elderly because many are left stranded in their old age.

Thulisile Bhengu from Slangspruit said: “These government houses are in a bad state. When I moved in, it was incomplete. There were no windows; I had to put them in myself. There are also no toilets. The houses that have toilets do not have sewage pipes.”

Nicky Erasmus of Hilton said water leaks are a huge problem. “I have tried to get action for years, probably all of six years, but it falls on deaf ears.”

Hayfields’ Fathima Khan complained of the high crime rate. “There is too much robbery and mugging. People are scared to walk in town. It is not safe at all.”

Buyisile Gwala of Dambuza said Zuma should address the abuse of street vendors and ensure that they are taken care of.

Oribi resident James Boucher, who lost a leg many years ago, complained that his disability pension was stopped almost three years ago and he wants this reviewed.

He says he lives in a tent and survives on money he makes from gardening he does for his neighbours.

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