Service delivery woes: A tale of more than two townships

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Service delivery woes: A tale of more than two townships

The effects of service delivery protests can be felt throughout the country

Nonkululeko Njilo

For months now residents of the old mining town Finsbury on Joburg’s West Rand have seen the informal homes next to their established neighbourhood mushroom.
With that has grown their fear of falling prey to criminals who all too easily disappear between the many shacks that have been erected.
But despite their differences and sometimes animosity, they are united in their call for better service delivery in the area.
Topping the list of grievances by Finsbury residents are their “exceptionally” high municipal bills. The residents claim that they reported this issue to the municipality, but so far they have had no response.Betty Nkomo, who has been living in the area for over 10 years, claims they are being ignored by the municipality. “We are angry, really angry. It’s like we are not recognised by the municipality. There is no job creation, no development, no police station but high levels of crime,” she said.  
Nkomo also raised concerns because she is billed commercial instead of residential rates for her property. “When I asked the municipality they told me that our houses were classified that way since the apartheid era,” Nkomo said. 
“I don’t know why I am supposed to suffer for apartheid times, because I wasn’t there,” she added.In an attempt to establish the distance from Finsbury to the nearest police station, spokesperson Constable Gloria Maswanganye said: “I am not sure, maybe it’s about 30km.”    
Nkomo also raised safety and crime concerns, which she attributed to illegal shacks being built near their homes. According to Nkomo, the shacks were erected with the councillor’s permission.
ANC ward councillor Thuli Mazibuko disputed that the shacks were illegal.
“The people who stay there were evicted from their plots. There is a committee responsible for checking if they were indeed evicted from where they were staying before they can move in,” he added. 
Mazibuko, however, said he was aware of the complaints about the increasing number of shacks.
Community leader Bokkie Pule expressed similar dissatisfaction, accusing the municipality of not creating employment opportunities for the community. 
Billing issues, potholes, the lack of a community hall and no schools in the immediate area all on her list of things that need fixing urgently.The community members claim to have tried on several occasions to raise their concerns with the West Rand Municipality as well as the office of Gauteng premier David Makhura, but to no avail.
The effects of service delivery protests were felt throughout the country on Monday.
Not too far away, emotions ran high as the R59 near Meyerton remained closed for the better part of the day after scores of people went on the rampage. They blocked the road and hurled stones at passing vehicles in an apparent service delivery protest, TimeLIVE reported.
Earlier‚ protesters had attacked an alcohol-filled truck between the Meyer Road and Johan le Roux off-ramp. They looted some of its contents‚ even making off with the vehicle’s keys‚ said police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo.
Hundreds of kilometres away, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, anger over similar issues sparked early-morning protests when a community outside Hluhluwe took to the streets.
TimesLIVE reported earlier that two trucks being set alight in the N2 between Hluhluwe and Matubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal. 
Police confirmed that the protest was prompted by issues of service delivery. They were able to disperse the protesting crowd which was estimated to be around 100 strong.In a video making rounds on social media, protesters are seen taking food items and running away. 
Residents were claiming that they were promised a clinic, a police station and a school, but these promises have not yet been fulfilled by the municipality. 
In May 2018 Municipal IQ , a company that  monitors the performances of all municipalities, reported that service delivery protests were increasing, with 94% of them recorded as being violent.
Municipal IQ MD Kevin Allan said there were different underlying reasons for the increase in service delivery protests. Allan argued that protests mostly occurred in informal settlements and communities that had been waiting for service delivery for a long time.  
Increasing frustration, development in neighbouring areas and lack of communication between leadership structures and community areas also seem to have a huge impact on the increasing protests, he said. 
Back in Gauteng, the community in Eersterust east of Pretoria staged rolling protests last week because of billing issues‚ blocking roads with burning tyres and throwing stones‚ culminating in vandalism at a police client services centre on Thursday evening.
The special team sent by the City of Tshwane to the civic centre to engage directly with residents on their billing complaints had to be abandoned earlier in the day when they were intimidated.
Tshwane executive mayor Solly Msimanga had to take to social media in an effort to reassure the residents that “they have not been forgotten”.

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