Ekurhuleni residents urged to raise concerns peacefully

Monday, July 27, 2009

Johannesburg - Ekurhuleni Mayor Ntombi Mekgwe has urged residents to use peaceful means when raising their service delivery grievances.

"We urge our communities to use peaceful means to raise their grievances rather than resorting to violent means to demand services.

"The use of violence is a major concern to us. We are confident that the issues will be addressed amicably with the residents of Thokoza," Mayor Mekgwe said on Monday.

She was briefing reporters in Thokoza about the recent service delivery protests.

Last Tuesday, a group of about 300 hostel residents in Thokoza gathered at Khumalo Road and marched towards the local municipality office protesting over the lack of service delivery.

The disgruntled protesters were demanding basic services such as water, sanitation as well as the renovation of their hostel.

The protest later turned violent when the angry crowd started throwing stones at passing motorists. Several vehicles were damaged, including that of the police.

Ms Mekgwe said a task team had since been formed look into the needs of the protesters.

According to the mayor, the task team, led by the Speaker of the Council, Clr Patricia Kumalo had already met with the leadership of the hostel residents.

She said they had already identified a number of service delivery challenges at the hostel that needed the municipality's urgent intervention.

Some of the concerns of the residents include cleanliness of the hostel, electrification of the hostel, water and ablution facilities.

Regarding the issue of electricity, the mayor said they were unable to electrify the hostel because it would be a waste of infrastructure and money since the provincial Department of Housing was working on a plan to demolish the three hostels in Ekurhuleni in order to build new family units.

"However, we will deploy a team to assess electricity challenges in the hostel. The team will also assess the water and sanitation infrastructure challenges.

"We are hopeful that this will work out since their leadership seemed to be more organised and committed to work with us," she said.

Ms Mekgwe also indicated that the provincial Department of Housing had appointed a contractor to clean the hostel.

Meanwhile, while the mayor addressed reporters, members of the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) continued their protest at the entrance of the municipal offices.

Municipal workers nationwide have embarked on strike action after wage talks reached a deadlock with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

Samwu rejected the SALGA Bargaining Council facilitator's proposal of a R3 802 minimum wage and a wage increase of 10.5 percent this financial year.

Samwu is demanding a minimum wage of R5 000 and a wage increase of 15 percent or R2 500, whichever is greater.

The Ekurhuleni mayor said they were not seriously affected by the strike since they have put in place contingency plans to continue delivering services to the people.