Springbok: Party-hopping in the search for a better life

2016-07-11 15:42
(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Okiep – On a long road that heads towards the Northern Cape-Namibian border sits an immaculate playground with green grass, seemingly out of place in the endless desert-scrub landscape.

It forms part of the tiny community of Skietbank, accessed by a singular dirt road off the N7 near Okiep.

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Resident Anna Phillips, 66, dressed in a thick coat, beanie and skirt, explains that the brightly coloured swings are deserted because it is too cold.

"Normally it is chockablock with kids. I can hear them shouting and having fun," she told News24 in Afrikaans on Thursday.

When Phillips looks out of the window of her neat three-roomed house, she sees her outside toilet in the yard and the playground behind it.

In the middle of the park stands a lamp post. Chicken feathers and a decaying goat's leg lie on the cut grass near the braai area.

Anna Phillips with her cousin's child. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Born and raised in Skietbank

The equipment is in a good condition and there is no litter lying around. A sign states the playground was built as part of the Extended Public Works Programme in the Nama Khoi local municipality.

Phillips has spent her whole life on this piece of land, against a rocky hill. It now has around 50 houses like hers.

"I was born there," she says from her couch, pointing through the open door to a zinc house. "My mommy raised us 12 kids there."

A photo of her mother in a wedding dress sits on a mantle in front of her electricity box.

The pensioner guards the playground fiercely and makes sure the children look after the asset.

Her neighbour, Benjamin Louw, 71, sitting on a chair next to the couch, explains that similar playgrounds had been vandalised in nearby Bergsig and Concordia.

Still renting

Phillips shakes her head: "We have better manners. They like to swear. They have life easier.

"We had to carry water but we survived."

As the wind whistles outside, she recalls her days of walking the long road to Springbok to clean houses.

Her daughter, who used to live with her, now lives in Cape Town. Phillips spends her days in an "ou pandokkie" with an outside tap, electricity and a television.

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Small decorative touches have been added but she has not made major improvements because she is renting.

For years she has voted for the ANC. "What did I get from that?" she asks rhetorically.

Next followed a brief flirtation with the Congress of the People. "Hulle is mos dood op die pad."

She wants to try the DA next. "I am going to see if they will treat us better".

Her greatest desire is for the municipality to transfer the house to her name.

Wheezing with laughter she chirps, "By that time I am dead".

(Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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