Jack Bloom MPL
The best hope for the forgotten people of Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg lies in partnerships with local businesses and people of goodwill.
This is my conclusion after my visit there yesterday as part of the DA’s “Don’t forget the forgotten” campaign. I was accompanied by DA constituency head Janet Semple MPL and local DA ward councillor Hilary Coke.
Every month I visit forgotten people in various parts of Gauteng, and stay the night to experience conditions there and see the best way in which people can be assisted. This was my 20th visit.
About 10 000 people live in Angelo informal settlement which was formed 20 years ago on the premises of the ERPM gold mine, and then taken over by DRD Gold.
The Ekurhuleni council is reluctant to provide services because it is on private land. This is why 2000 people in the one section of Angelo only have three taps.
In the other section, which has about 8000 people, DA ward councillor Hilary Coke pushed hard for an extra 8 taps which the council installed in January this year.
People complained about high crime, including rapes, and said they wanted mast lighting. There is no electricity, although there is a substation nearby.
Rubbish collection is not good, but people are reasonably happy with the chemical toilets.
I saw a sports field from the old mine which was over-run by long grass. A little bit of assistance could clean it up and make it useable for football and netball.
I met businessmen in the nearby Angelo Industrial Park who pledged to get grass-cutting equipment to rehabilitate this field.
These businessmen, Eric Dorner, Sid Sidersky and Andy Jones have also been very helpful on employing Angelo residents at the industrial park.
Other companies provide free wood that residents use in their shacks.
Councillor Hilary Coke and DA branch chairperson Phillippos Mthombothi have done remarkable things to improve the lives of people in Angelo.
The council was going to move 73 shacks from a sinkhole area to a most unsuitable site by a radioactive mine dump. Coke protested vigorously, and got them moved to a more suitable area. The dangerous sinkholes were then filled in.
The landowners, DRD Gold, paid each shack owner R500 to help in rebuilding their shacks.
I also visited the neighbouring Kanana and Jerusalem shack settlements, which house about 8 000 people.
As always, I was impressed by the inimitable human spirit in building their own houses in adverse circumstances.
The dire need in the area is a mobile clinic as the other clinics are far away in Reiger Park or Boksburg North.
There is also a need for a creche, which hopefully can happen with the help of the DA and people who will assist with donations.
The DA will shortly be donating a number of solar-powered lights to people in these settlements, which will eliminate candles that cause shack fires.
I stayed the night with Mr Phillippos Mthombothi, the DA branch chairperson. He runs a security company that employs local people.
It was quite a chilly night, but I was cheered by the warm reception from everyone that I met.
Their future is uncertain as they may well be moved in the medium future, but partnerships could ease their lives considerably.
I intend to visit again when soccer games are played on a renewed sports field and other improvements have been made as well.