‘We all decided not to vote’ – Springbok pensioner

2016-07-07 21:30
The town of Springbok in the Northern Cape. (Jenna Etheridge)

Springbok- Pensioner Chrissie Beukes and her friends were socialising at the front of her small house in Bergsig recently when they came to a consensus about the upcoming local government elections.

"We all sat at my door and decided not to vote," 67-year-old Beukes said on Monday, sitting on the bed of her modest, but clean, concrete-block home.

Her cat casts a lazy eye from a chair nearby. The room, painted a cheery orange, serves as a bedroom, lounge and kitchen. Her bathroom, with a bath and flush toilet, doubles as a storeroom. 

She laughed and shook her head when asked about elections.

"The ANC, the DA, they all offer a better life. But not one does their duty. They don’t come here and visit."

Next to the door of her home is a mattress on crates. Beukes, 67, sometimes sits there and looks out over her dusty yard and the sand road in front. 

She moved from Rooifontein to Bergsig with her husband, Jan, in 1991. Glancing at his photo above the fridge, she says he was stabbed to death around the time they moved.

Beukes describes Bergsig as "rough" at first, but says it has improved over the years.

- Elections Map: The ANC lost 2.7% of the vote in 2011, see how that compares to the rest of the Northern Cape

'They don’t come here and visit'

She generally feels safe. Someone told her a woman living over the hill had been murdered. The attacker was jailed.

Besides chatting to her neighbours, Beukes sometimes walks to the nearby local clinic for blood pressure medication.

"When they don’t have, they send you a letter to say you can pick them up from the chemist. I am happy with their service."

Bergsig is a suburb on the mountainside, just a short drive outside of Springbok. Its residents live in a mixture of houses.

On the one end of Bergsig, past an open veld with rubbish scattered in the bushes, are simple concrete structures where Beukes and her neighbours live. 

A sign in the veld indicates that the Nama Khoi local municipality has issued a contract for an electricity upgrade in her street.

The tarred section of town has established homes with walls, motorised gates and numerous decorations; a guesthouse, and street curbs laid out for future development.

ANC, DA and EFF posters line the streets.

Youth unemployment

At the centre of the surburb is the clinic, library, primary school, general trader and two liquor stores just metres apart. There is also a bar nearby. 

Beukes says the thing she notices most is youth unemployment. 

When News24 visited the area on Monday morning, groups of young men and women hung around and chatted outside the liquor stores.

Others walked along the road, looking for work, including a twenty-something man who identified himself only as Jana.

He said he was excited because he had just secured building work in Kamieskroon, about an hour away.

"I will be away for two weeks. Come chat to me when I am back," he says with a grin, before rushing off in the direction of his home to pack his bags.

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