Sexwale spends a night with Diepsloot residents

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Johannesburg - Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale spent Monday night in the strife-torn informal settlement of Diepsloot as part of his "sincere listen campaign" to get first hand experience on the living conditions of the people there.

"What we are doing here is to work with people closely and close the gap between government and the poor of the poorest.

"The 24 hours that I have spent in the informal settlement was absolutely informative. We have collected valuable information about the plight of the people living in Diepsloot.

"We will use this information as part of the department's planning strategy," the minister in an interview with 702 Talk Radio on Tuesday morning.

Minister Sexwale said his visit in the north of Johannesburg informal settlements was part of his department's listen campaign to have proper conversation with ordinary people.

He added that he spent the night in Diepsloot's extension one, the scene of recent service delivery protests, to get a better understanding of the residents living conditions.

Minister Sexwale's department had set up a makeshift office in the area for overnight for queries, and the minister assured residents that government would do everything in its power ensure that people are living in proper conditions.

Earlier on Monday, Minister Sexwale had a special meeting with community leaders to discuss challenges concerning the residents, before touring the area to interact with the close-knit community of Diepsloot.

A 26-year-old resident, Sarah Moepe told the minister that they were living in an unhygienic environment which has endangered the health of her children who play in sewage water because there were no parks in the area.

"We need houses. We don't want to be moved from shack to shack, otherwise we are going nowhere.

"We are confident that with your visit things will change. You have witnessed our living conditions and we hope that you will assist us," said Ms Moepe, who is part of 300 families who have built their shacks on the damaged sewage pipe.

Another resident, Collen Mncwabe, 46, urged the minister to find them a piece of land to build proper houses because Diepsloot was overpopulated and unhealthy.

"We need your help from our government. We don't have houses, electricity or even roads and the environment here is not conducive for human development because there are no basic services," he said.

Minister Sexwale told the discontented residents that government was aware of their plight and would do everything in its power to rescue the people from the repulsive situation.

"Our people here are living in bad and inhuman conditions. This is not good at all and as government we have to make a plan to rescue these people from these conditions.

"We have many areas where our people are living in inhuman conditions and we will visit all the 2000 informal settlements across the country to have a direct conversation with people.

"We will collect the information and use it as part of our strategic planning. We will work under no timeframe but one day there will be no shack in South Africa," the minister said.

The minister is scheduled later today to brief a special Cabinet meeting chaired by Deputy President Kgalema on his visit to Diepsloot.