President Jacob Zuma listening to Eldorado Park residents during a campaign visit in the area (Mpho Raborife, News24)
Johannesburg - Eldorado Park residents used President Jacob Zuma’s visit to the area on Thursday to express their frustrations and to ask him for help.
Among the requests made during Zuma’s walk-about were job opportunities for the youth. The president was asked when he would give RDP homes to those who had applied for them years ago.
Zuma was visiting the area as part of the ANC’s campaign for the August 3 local government elections. He spoke to residents of Thembelihle, Kliptown and concluded his visit in Eldorado Park.
During his final stop at the Nancefield Old Age Home, residents who had gathered under a lapa to escape the harsh sun, told Zuma they did not feel safe. Youngsters often broke into their homes and stole their belongings.
They complained about the lack of transport whenever they needed to go to the hospital for check-ups. The main road where taxis were available was more than a kilometre away. Some of them had difficulty walking. Most had to hire private transport, which they could barely afford, they said.
Zuma reassured them that he would speak to Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau to find a solution.
“We don’t want the senior citizens to stay with worries, you need them to be very happy. I have a very soft spot for them. I think there is something we can do,” Zuma said.
One of the residents, Reggie Adams, asked Zuma to consider scrapping rent for old age homes.
“I am 73 years old. I am suggesting we scrap this thing of paying rent. We cannot afford to pay this rent anymore.”
He said his monthly rent was R23 366 in arrears. Adams and other neighbours owed the city tens of thousands because the arrears of the units they were living in had been carried over to their names from previous lodgers, he said.
“I’m asking you from the bottom of my heart, please do away with the rent.”
Freddie Pretorius, another resident at the old age home, said he lived in constant fear after his home was broken into a few weeks after moving in.
“I was sleeping when they broke into my place. Luckily they found money in my wallet and they took my watch and some belongings and left,” he said.
He said he did not feel safe because although the home had a security guard at the gate, he often sat inside his wendy house and slept, Pretorius said.
His friend, Freddie Retief, said the police in the area were of no help either.
“We came here to rest, to spend our last years in peace, but we live in fear, constantly awake, listening out for strange noises,” Retief said.
Zuma promised to look into all their concerns.
“I am happy that I came to see and hear about the challenges that you have. I think they are very reasonable and understandable. I am going to see the mayor and raise the issues,” he said.
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