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Eldos residents had just had enough of the neglect

Crime & Courts
Johannesburg - As you walk into the Rafferty family yard in Eldorado Park extension 8, you are first greeted by six shacks standing side by side, with more than 20 children playing in the front.

Each of the shacks is designated to house between six and 10 families, with only one toilet to share.

That is reality the family have endured for three generations and, according to Tanya Brown, has been the motivation behind the unrest that has erupted in the Eldorado community since Monday. The community took to the streets demanding better houses and government intervention with unemployment that is rife.

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Residents of Eldorado Park staged protests this week over their living conditions, lack of housing and joblessness. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

“Things are really hard for us. Sometimes there is work, sometimes there isn’t, leaving us with no money for food and the basics we need. On top of this, we have to worry about our living conditions because we can’t afford houses,” informed the 30-year-old mother of five.

The cramped two-roomed shack belonging to the family of seven that The Sunday Independent was able to see had numerous electrical wires lining the ceiling with holes, which let rain in during storms.

Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

“I can’t live here any more,” said Brown, with tears forming in her eyes. “In winter, it gets so cold that we end up sick.

"When you go to the clinic, you only get pain tablets. We feel we have been forgotten and that is why we are up in arms.”

Her husband, Mario Rafferty, worries about the safety of his family.

“The people of Eldorado Park are sick and tired of this ongoing situation. They (government officials) come and make promises, putting stickers on the door for house allocations, and six years' later, we are still waiting. Last they told us about the RDP houses; nothing has been done since.

“As a man, I feel as if I am failing my family. The electrical box is overloading, the community is unsafe. The government must start to look after the coloured community as well.”

In the other three-roomed shack facing the gate live 10 people.

“We had to further extend this shack to add a room at the back for my cousin and his girlfriend and two children to move there. We are already cramped in here so they had to move,” said 26-year-old Vohenique Rafferty.

Vohenique came all the way from the Eastern Cape looking for a better life but that dream has quickly crumbled as she feels everywhere she goes, there are struggles beyond her capabilities.

“I am unemployed with two children, and the only thing I have is the Sassa money to survive. How will I be able to buy a house?”

All they ask for is for a dignified place to live in, they all agree.

“There is no money to buy houses, otherwise we would have by now. That is why our people are fighting; they are standing up for themselves because they want houses. The government is giving houses to people who already have houses. These people rent these houses out while we are waiting."

The frustrated young woman said they would not stop their action until they were heard. “How can you stop? How do we stop until we get what we want?

"The crime rate is high but what other choice do the people have?

“That is what happens when the people feel suffocated. I do not commend it, but when you see the youngsters steal just to buy bread, you are left defeated.”

Peter Rafferty, councillor and brother to the family, said though he does not applaud the violence, he understood why the community was angry.

“I grew up here. I had to endure the same challenges that my nephews and nieces are facing right now. Nothing has changed and I think that is why the people are tired and demand change.”

Currently, the strike has been put on halt and has left community in shambles.

“The damages are real and not diluting the genuine issues that the community members have been raising. As a councillor, I knew that one day this would happen.

"This historical problem needs correcting. I understand where they are coming from.”

Friday the councillor is meeting Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements Paul Mashatile, Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and other relevant stakeholders to give feedback on a time frame before presenting it to the public.

“They are taking us through what will happen, how it will happen and time frames before announcing this on a public meeting.

"We don't want people to come and talk to our people saying nothing. These people have heard many stories before, now they want time lines and commitments.”

The country witnessed numerous violent strikes this week. In Joburg, there were flare-ups in Ennerdale, Freedom Park and Eldorado Park.

The Sunday Independent

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