FEW ROUTES OUT OF POVERTY AT SEKAMPANENG

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

There are few routes out of poverty for desperately poor people living in Sekampaneng informal settlement, which is in Hammanskraal north of Pretoria.

This is my major finding after my visit there yesterday as part of the DA’s “Don’t forget the forgotten” campaign in Gauteng. For thirteen months I have visited deprived communities one day a month and spent the night with them.

Unemployment in Sekampaneng is very high, more than 60 percent.

I met Ms Belinah Marove, a mother of three, who collects bottles and breaks them up in the different colours, for which she gets about R180 a month from a recycling company, but spends R80 of this on transport.

She also collects small fish from a small nearby lake, which she eats and sells.

Mr John Chauke is an elderly man who also survives by fishing with a net in a polluted lake. I watched him as he cast his net, catching only a few fish each day which he sells for a few rand. He has been doing this since 2000 when he lost his job on the mines.

Young people are especially frustrated. Their job prospects are poor without education and training, but there is a skills centre in a modern building owned by the Tshwane Metro Council that has been virtually unused for many years.

There are 1195 children at the Adam Masebe Secondary School, including 110 in the matric class. The pass rate last year was only 71 percent, done from 84 percent in previous years.

They have no library or science laboratory, and no computers despite the Gauteng Education Department’s claim that the Gauteng Online project is widely implemented. What chance do children at this school have to get skills for a job in a modern economy?

Other factors that make education difficult include the huge social problems of the many orphans and single-parent households.

The DA will push for better facilities at local schools and adult learning programmes at the unused skills centre.

It is a pity that Government is not implementing the Youth Wage Subsidy as it would help local businesses to take on young people.

Sekampaneng is a very peaceful and welcoming community that deserves more assistance so that they can help themselves. They live in a difficult environment, including unsanitary pit toilets, as I experienced when I stayed the night at the home of Mr William Dibetle.

Opportunities must be created urgently in every possible way in forgotten semi-rural areas in Tshwane like Sekampaneng so that they become places of hope, not despair.

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