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Johannesburg - Almost 20 years into democracy, they still live in dilapidated and crumbling houses – that is why DA premier candidate Mmusi Maimane was invited to witness their plight.
Most still use pit latrines, some of which are caving in and posing a danger to children.
And it is their former bantustan leader, Lucas Mangope, and the ANC who these residents blame for their misery.
These were the stories told to Maimane when he visited the rural village of Makgatho section in Winterveld, north of Pretoria, to campaign for his party’s vote ahead of the national elections next year.
Maimane was invited to the rural area by a group of about 20 residents who wanted him to see that their living conditions hadn’t changed since Mangope was in power. Winterveld used to be part of the Bophuthatswana homeland during the apartheid era.
Prior to 1994, Mangope was toppled by violent protests in most of Bophuthatswana. At the time, residents of Winterveld played an active role in the demise of Mangope’s rule, with some actively campaigning for the ANC.
At first, Maimane’s campaign looked set to fail. He arrived in a fancy bus, branded with his face alongside.
Small entrepreneur Levy Ramathoka told Maimane that he was tired of politicians who only come to their area during election campaigning and forget about them after the elections.
“We never see councillors. We only see them when they want our votes, and that’s it. Even (DA leader Helen) Zille came here, and we gave her a memorandum, and she never responded.”
Maimane promised him that if they vote in DA councillors, “they will meet with you four times a year. If they do not do that, they cannot be councillors anymore”.
Ramathoka told Maimane the ANC government in the City of Tshwane was trying to take part of the land he obtained during Mangope’s tenure to build RDP houses.
“I have a title deed for that land and yet they want to take it away from me. I made a proposal to rezone the area into a business area and create jobs for our people, but they insist on building RDPs,” Ramathoka said.
He said he and several other affected people have sent memorandums to three post-apartheid presidents – Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma – asking them to sort out the problem. But none of them did anything about their plight.
Ramathoka added: “I also sent a memorandum to Helen Zille, and received no response.”
Other residents led Maimane into their homes so he could see first-hand the squalor they are living in.
He was also shown several RDP houses that stood empty and without windows.
According to residents, these houses were completed in 2005 and had been unoccupied since then.
One of the residents, Simon Khoza, said: “I registered for an RDP house twice when Thabo Mbeki was the president. I did it again when Jacob Zuma took over. I still do not have a house.”
Khoza was part of the delegation and told Maimane that the RDP houses had become crime hotspots.
The residents said women were raped there.
Maimane promised to take their plight to the relevant authorities, including Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and the City of Tshwane.