Mamelodi community say deaths of boys who drowned were a long time coming
Pretoria - Skierlik Mountain View informal settlement has become the home of the forgotten and the neglected, residents of the Mamelodi township said at the weekend.
Speaking as the bodies of two children were being buried on Saturday, the frustrated shack dwellers said the deaths of Tony Lawrence Moore, 4, and Siyabonga Mabila , 7, were a long time coming.
The boys drowned in an unfenced quarry two weekends ago, and, said the despondent residents, the disaster had, after a long time, brought some attention to the plight of the settlement that has been expanding on the ground and up mountains.
They said it was shameful that many of them have been waiting for decent housing, municipal services and relocation for a very long time, but it was only now that ministers, MECs and MMC visited their township.
As they buried Siyabonga and Tony, parents Mmalebo Mashaba and Rose Mokoena said they could not afford to see other children's lifeless bodies being pulled out of a quarry, or any of the uncovered holes scattered across their township.
Although some community members said they wanted to be relocated, some continued to build and fix their shacks in an indication that they were home for as long as it took.
City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the people of the informal settlement were actually very compliant, and were being relocated to Mooiplaats.
This is where the survivors of the 2019 Mamelodi floods were also relocated.
Mashigo said there was no truth to rumours Tshwane was attempting to have the people move away from the land through a court order after the death of the boys.
He said the community has been working well with the City, and even the rumour that the land where the quarry is located had been allocated for a building of a school was not true.
However, during the funeral of the boys, businessman Stemer Monageng from King Civil Engineering Contractors, lambasted the City of Tshwane for failing to give the people of the informal settlement adequate services and decent homes.
He said he had been working in the area for three years and even helped feed the needy and train men and women, but he was not satisfied with what the City has done to improve the lives of the residents of the disadvantaged community.
“To the City, these people are not situated properly. I'll speak my truth and those who want to be upset can be upset. These are your people… what are you doing about these people? You always come here when there is a problem. People built (shacks) around the dam but they are not even supposed to be here. Had you given them permanent places this disaster would have not happened.”
More people spoke of the pain of the children having no decent facilities and amenities to keep them busy, saying the hot weather – and availability of water in the dam – was what had killed the boys.
“We lived in small, cramped quarters; there is no swimming pool, no park, nothing. What better to do than swim,” one parent added, adding that drugs, teenage pregnancies and general delinquency of the youth was also rife, as the area slipped under the radar and received no services and no attention from the the government.