'All lies and empty promises' - Oudtshoorn resident

Natalie Isaacs. (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Natalie Isaacs. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Oudtshoorn - A popular joke among Oudtshoorn ratepayers is that anyone found driving straight on the local roads will be arrested for drunken driving.

“Everyone who lives here knows to swerve for the potholes,” homeowner Natalie Isaacs, 40, pointed out.

She has been living in the Little Karoo town all her life. After growing up in Bridgton, she moved to Oudtshoorn North three years ago.

“Potholes here are a nightmare. They range in size from 20cm to massive gashes in the road. The damages caused to our vehicles are enormous.”

While regular repairs are carried out, the quality of the work leaves much to be desired, the mother of two said.

“Even I know that you need to properly fill the hole. My uncle was an engineer and he told me you first need to fill it before you cover it with tar. Here, the work is simply cover-ups. They throw in some sand and slap it closed. When the first rain comes, the problem returns. It’s a waste.”

Some roads are in such a bad state it’s similar to driving on a gravel road, Isaacs, who works as an administrator, argued.

“To me, it speaks of a bigger problem. If the municipality can’t fix such small glitches, how can they be trusted with the bigger issues?”

Natalie Isaacs stands next to a filled pothole on her doorstep. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

“Corruption is a deep concern”

The Oudtshoorn municipality was placed under administration in July 2015.

According to a report the Western Cape local government department released in March, a forensic investigation uncovered 132 contraventions.

These included two cases of corruption and eight of fraud. There was evidence of falsification of documents. The contraventions mostly pertained to the Municipal Finance Management Act, and municipal policies.

It frustrated her when her rates and taxes were misused, Isaacs said.

“I work hard for my money, just like every other taxpayer in this country. When government takes their part of my salary, I expect it to be used to improve my community, not to be stuffed into some dirty politician’s back pocket.

“Corruption is a deep concern. It’s a filth that needs to be cleaned.”

Isaacs conceded that other than the municipal mismanagement and the state of their roads, life in Oudtshoorn was wonderful.

“Our roads are clean, our dirt is collected and I am proud of where I live. Serious crimes are few and far between and other than the extreme weather, this is a good place to call home.”

However, she would like to see tourist attractions like the Cango Caves be made more affordable for locals.

“It’s sad that many of the people who live here have never been to the places frequented by visitors to Oudtshoorn because they simply can’t afford it. There should be a special rate so that we can also see the sites that bring so many visitors here.”

Isaacs was still considering whether to vote in next month’s elections.

“Politics is a dirty affair, all lies and empty promises. I will think about whether I will trust anyone enough to vote for them.”

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