Forgotten Springs people seek change

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

Residents of informal settlements in the Springs area of the Far East Rand seek change to improve their living conditions.

This is my conclusion after my visit yesterday as part of the DA’s “Don’t forget the forgotten” campaign in which I visit deprived communities in Gauteng and spend the night in a shack to experience conditions for myself. This was my 30th night in a shack.

I was accompanied by DA Constituency MPL Glenda Steyn, and DA Councillors Ashor Sarupen, Dean Stone, Shadow Shabangu, Mandla Motha, Zodwa Radebe and Ramesh Sheodin.

We visited the Daggafontein, Never Never and Everest informal settlements.

Water was a problem at all these settlements, with only 18 taps for 2200 shacks at Daggafontein, only 2 taps for 108 shacks at Never Never, and 7 taps for about 2000 shacks at Everest.

Many of these taps were leaking, wasting large amounts of water. How difficult can it be to fix these leaks with a decent tap? It shows the general neglect of these areas by Ekurhuleni council.

Residents at Never Never name call it that because they feel that they will never, never get housing. Every year, Ward Councillor Dean Stone puts housing into his ward Integrated Development Plan (IDP), but nothing happens because the Province won’t fund it. The land they are presently on is privately owned and earmarked for a mall development.

Meanwhile, the residents of Never Never are neglected. Surrounding grass is not cut, and residents kill about four or five snakes a month.

The problem at Everest is that more and more people keep arriving, including foreigners who work at illegal mines. Residents have dug their own pit toilets, and say their biggest demand is for electricity.

There are toilets without houses at a nearby relocation area, but this development is stalled by court action by objecting neighbours.

I stayed the night at the home of Mr Jabu Xaba, who is unemployed and has lived for 35 years at the Daggafontein informal settlement.

Part of the land is owned by the council, and the rest by two private landowners. Those who are close to the mine dumps will have to move as it is dangerously radioactive.

250 residents of Daggafontein were supposed to move to RDP houses in KwaThema Ext 3, but their houses were invaded illegally and so they remain in Daggafontien, angry and frustrated.

It’s a sad situation. Daggafontein is quite an orderly settlement with houses reasonably spaced out. Upgrading is possible if electricity and piped water is put in.

I spent a peaceful night at Daggafontein. They deserve better from the authorities who generally ignore them and other informal settlements in the area.

Some residents I spoke to at Everest said they would not vote in the elections in protest against their conditions.

This will hurt the ruling party, but it would be better if they voted for an opposition party that would not forget them and would assist them to upgrade their lives.