Willem and Linda Goedeman (Jenna Etheridge, News24)
Springbok – Tending to their garden and pigeons has always given Springbok pensioners Willem and Linda Goedeman the greatest pleasure. Lately, however, they have been feeling the pressure of rising water and food costs.
The couple's turquoise home is situated down a dusty sand road, in the desert-like town of Bergsig, in the Northern Cape. The centre of Springbok is a few minutes' drive away.
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Despite the dry setting, they have planted shrubs and small trees at the front and placed a fence around their home.
Much time is spent outside with their four grandchildren, their cats, and a puppy.
"Excuse what it looks like now. It is much better in summer," remarks Linda, 57, as she walks past the greenery.
Strung to some of the branches are old CDs glinting in the sunlight. Nearby stands a bird coop and washing line.
'I like this place'
They initially bought two pigeons. This soon expanded to a brood of 15, which follow the couple around for rice or breadcrumbs.
The couple moved to the area in 2000 or, as 67-year-old Willem says, chewing on a match, around the time of the "new millennium".
"I like this place. It is friendly and we are very happy," Linda chips in, sitting next to her husband on the couch.
Family photos plaster the walls and television cabinet. A dainty china tea set takes pride of place in the kitchen.
Their two daughters work at a grocery and hardware store, respectively. They also have a son, Julrich, who they adopted when he was 10 months old.
Sitting on his granny's lap, five-year-old Melvino cannot peel his eyes away from the game he is playing on his tablet.
Prices going up
Their other grandchild Toschia, 13, has holed herself up in the next room to watch movies, like any teenager during the school holidays.
Linda says their household income is made up of a disability grant and pension. They have to run their household, pay their rates, and contribute to a burial fund.
"The price of everything is getting higher," she says.
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Recently, they have been experiencing confusion and frustration about the rates charged for water consumption.
The couple says their bill has been higher than usual the last three months, even though they do not think they have used more water than before. This is also in spite of subsidies.
"We water our garden the same and we wash ourselves like any other person," Linda says.
She says officials sometimes check their meter. Other times, they "guessed" their average consumption.
"I feel we just have to be happy with it, but we are not. If you don't pay water, they block your electricity."
Linda is ambivalent about the upcoming local elections.
"It feels to me everyone is the same, because in the end you don't get what you want. If you say there's a problem, they shrug their shoulders," she says.
Willem says he is aware of the ANC, the DA, and a new Khoi-San party.
He likens the political situation to a sandwich - when you open it up, the contents (political parties) are spread on both sides and it is not easy to tell them apart.
"I suppose I will vote for the DA," he says with a shrug.
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