16/04/2014. Squatters at the informal settlement known as The Hills behind Laudium in the west of Pretoria suffers from bad streets, lack of water and electricity. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Pretoria - Disgruntled residents at an informal settlement west of Pretoria say they will support Ronnie Kasrils in the Vote-no campaign.

For eight years about 3 500 families at The Hills informal settlement – situated between Laudium and Erasmia – have been living in squalor and poverty, deprived of basic services.

On Wednesday community leaders said that come May 7, if no efforts have been made to provide them with water, electricity and sanitation, they will head to the polls and spoil their votes.

“It seems the only language this municipality understands is violence and vandalism. We have done this the gentleman’s way for too long. Now we are going to be outrageous to get what we deserve – basic human rights,” Petrus Nkoko said.

Protesters gathered along the R55 on Wednesday morning, but their plans to burn tyres and blockade the main road were halted by police.

They then returned to the informal settlement where protest action continued, accompanied by burning tyres, and displayed placards calling for an end to their deprivation.

Nkoko said a memorandum was accepted by a city of Tshwane representative but the community was convinced this was just a ploy to “buy them time”.

“They think we are stupid. We gave them a memorandum six weeks ago but they never responded. Now they say they will respond in seven days but that means seven months. They want to keep us quiet before the elections and then we will never hear from them again,” another leader said.

Residents said it was a disgrace they had to live the way they did, while those in “mansions across the street lived like kings”.

They claim service delivery was initiated at a neighbouring settlement in Atteridgeville weeks after an electioneering visit by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

“That squatter camp is only four years old and already they are getting water and other services. We are seven years old and still fighting since day one. Maybe the president must come visit us and see how we suffer, then maybe we will get services,” Nkoko said.

The municipality has not grasped the suffering they endure, he said. Pregnant women lost their babies, others gave birth in their shacks because they had to be pushed down the steep rock-littered roads in a wheelbarrow to get to the ambulance on the main road.

“Cars can’t even drive on these roads. There is no light in the early hours of the morning when our children walk to school. They are robbed and raped in the mountains. Is that a way to live?” Nkoko asked.

Residents said they were resorting to the media to broadcast their desperate plea for services.

“We know there are many like us, who also beg for the same things, so please someone must listen to the people of this country. The mayor says he wants to make this a world-class city, but how can he do that when his people live like this? Or is he just going to ignore us? Please, Mr Mayor, wake up. Your people are calling on you and the government to deliver,” Nkoko said.

Pretoria News