Ricochet News

75-year-old Port Elizabeth woman feels let down by government

By Afikile Lugunya - Sep 4, 2017
75-year-old Port Elizabeth woman feels let down by government

While the world has since moved on, after the violent evictions that were witnessed in the Ikamvelihle, Ramaphosa and Wells Estate area, where residents had built shacks on land belonging to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality after years of waiting for housing, for the residents of Motherwell, the struggle continues.

Last week, the residents again took to the streets to demand that the Metro returns their furniture and belongings, which they say were taken by the authorities when they were evicted. The residents claimed that the municipality was dumping the seized furniture and belongs at a site in Uitenhage.

Several residents, who spoke to RNEWS, said that life has not been easy for them since the evictions.

75-year-old Thembela Zimeme she has been waiting on the municipality’s housing waiting list for so many years that she does not even remember when she applied, but what surprises her is that her daughter, who applied for a house years after her, received a house.

She blames the former African National Congress (ANC)-led administration for using the elderly to vote for them knowing exactly that their demands will not be met.

“Before 1994, we used to sleep with our heads facing other people’s feet. They told us to vote for freedom, which we did, but since then nothing has changed after the so-called democracy.

“We all fought for this democracy, but unfortunately not all of us were going to hold leadership positions,” Zimeme said.

“Those in power don’t make time to think about the voters, but when they want our votes they even visit us one by one as they make us believe that they have solutions to our problems.

“On each election, we wake up early in the morning and try to avoid criminals looking to prey on us as we go to the voting stations to vote for these people, but even now there’s nothing.”

She said that during the evictions in June, when violence broke out, police used tear gas and rubber bullets on them – and the elderly and disabled were severely affected in the process.

“The police used tear gas on us, I ran as fast as I could to avoid the smoke, but I fell and other residents stepped on top of me as they ran, as you can see, now I’m using a walking stick,” Zimeme described.

She added that the tear gas also affected her weak chest and she has been having respiratory problems since then.

After losing her home, granny Zimeme now lives with her daughter and other family members. However, the entire household depends on her Old Age Grant.

“I stay with my daughter, there are many of us living there because in our culture, we are all family. Most of them don’t work as a result they depend on my old age grant,” she explained.

Motherwell Ward 54 councillor, Morgan Tshaka, told RNEWS that he is aware of the plight of the residents, who were affected by the evictions, but says some of their challenges are historical and are beyond him as he is still relatively a new councillor.

“I think the MCC of human settlement must come and listen to these people, so that we can plan a way forward for them.

“We are payed to listen to the people not to sit in our offices and forget about them and yet say we are leaders,” Cllr Tshaka described

Tshaka says that he doesn’t condone the protests in his ward, but adds that, at the same time, he feels their pain.

“I’m not saying what they are doing is right, but at the same time, when there is a dispute, those relevant must listen to people and try to resolve their disputes.”