Irate protesters barricade road; demand electricity, toilets and houses

2019-07-09 16:46
Msunduzi firefighters extinguishing burning debris following a protest on Skhumbuzo Ngwenya Road on Monday morning.

Msunduzi firefighters extinguishing burning debris following a protest on Skhumbuzo Ngwenya Road on Monday morning. (NOKUTHULA KHANYILE)

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“If you had to use my toilet, you would not be able to eat for a week. It is disgusting.”

Those are the words of a protester who was part of the crowd that closed Skhumbuzo Ngwenya Road in Slangspruit again on Monday morning.

Residents living in the area which borders Imbali, woke up to debris burning on the road.

The angry protesters also picked up stones and bottles and started pelting passing vehicles.

Traffic had to be re-routed as piles of trash and tyres lay burning on the road.

The Public Order Police (POP) unit later managed to disperse the crowd.

When The Witness arrived, there were about five police cars stationed on the road.

Denmark and Slangspruit residents are demanding that the municipality provide electricity, toilets and houses.

They are currently using pit toilets which they have made themselves, however, they said this is no longer an option as the toilets are full and some are dangerous to use because they could collapse at any time.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said after engagement with the residents, the municipality was committed to resolving the issues.

“The administrator is finalising the turnaround strategy for the municipality and is engaging with internal stakeholders. We appeal to our citizens to be patient with us as we are committed to providing quality services,” said Mafumbatha.

The protesters said although they met with Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo and Speaker Jabu Ngubo, their grievances had still not been attended to with urgency.

They vowed that the protest would continue until they have the details and timeline, in writing, of when the municipality would implement service delivery in the ward.

“We can’t be talking about the same issues since 1996. If you had to use my toilet, you would not be able to eat for a week. It is disgusting and our children are getting sick,” said one resident.

“The houses we live in were built by the Lutheran Church missionaries. They were supposed to be temporary structures that were constructed mostly from asbestos cement. The cracked asbestos walls and roofs have become a health hazard.”

The residents said last year, municipal officials had promised that about R2 million would be budgeted to tend to service delivery in the ward but that did not happen.

Another resident said they had been patient enough with the municipality, now they refuse to engage with them any further; they want KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala to attend to the matter.

“We are sick and tired of complaining about the same thing over and over again. Njilo has been here before and we don’t want to see his face anymore,” said the resident.

“We have been trying to engage with the municipality and we have been patient with them for so long. That ends here — we are tired. If they do not give us what we want, we will not stop protesting.”

A resident living in the area, who asked not to be named, said the ongoing protests there are becoming a serious concern.

“You find that once the protest is over, the mess is merely kicked to the side of the road.

“So, when another protest flares up, the same mess is used in it. Then you find the logs and branches sticking out into the road and we have to navigate around them with speeding taxis driving up and down the road,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest action

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