Zandspruit residents take to the streets

Published Jul 1, 2011


Elections promises made. Votes cast. And still no service delivery.

This was the frustration voiced by Zandspruit residents as they protested on Thursday morning, blocking traffic and combating policemen.

Protests flared in the settlement just before the municipal elections in May. Residents were upset with their ward councillor, Maureen Schneeman, and wanted her to be removed and replaced by a local representative.

Thursday’s protest focused on the RDP houses promised to residents before the elections.

“We haven’t heard a thing since the elections,” said resident Tryphina Senosi, who has lived in Zandspruit with her three children for more than a decade. She has been waiting for an RDP home since 2004.

Meshack Masia moved to Zandspruit four years ago, leaving his Limpopo home in search of work.

“Life here is terrible,” he said. “It’s overpopulated. The toilets are always full – it takes many days for them to come and drain them.”

Residents said they only saw Schneeman when she was campaigning ahead of the elections.

“And then we vote and don’t see her anymore,” said Masia.

“We don’t want a councillor living in a townhouse. We want somebody from Zandspruit, who knows how we’re suffering.”

The protest, which began in the early hours of Thursday morning, saw a few hundred protesters take to the main road, trying to block the route ahead of morning rush hour.

It lasted only about an hour before police moved in and cleared the scene. Tactical response teams, Nyalas and some heavily armed police stood opposite the settlement from 5am, monitoring the hundred or so protesters who were toyi-toying in the street.

Protesters filled Beyers Naudé Drive with bricks, rubble and tree branches, but the officers pushed the angry community back into their settlement. By 5.45am, the road had been reopened.

After 8am the situation flared up again, with about 100 striking residents, mostly young people, trying to take back the street. The road was closed in both directions while police attempted to push back the final group.

By afternoon, the remaining residents had traded their protesting for anger and gone home. – The Star

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