Category Archives: Orange Farm

M&G: ‘We voted ANC but it seems we are forgotten’

‘We voted ANC but it seems we are forgotten’

South African police fired rubber bullets and water cannons on Tuesday to quell protests in Orange Farm near Johannesburg in which one policeman was shot in the chest.

With just 99 days to go before the Soccer World Cup — which will put South Africa at the centre of global attention — a string of violent protests have provided scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era.

The protesters want to pressure the African National Congress (ANC) to improve healthcare, housing, education, roads and water.

‘We are forgotten’

The policeman was taken to hospital and his condition was judged stable. Eleven demonstrators were arrested.

“We want better lives, development and dignity. Each and every time we voted for the ANC but it seems we are forgotten,” said Nicky Khulu, a 29-year-old resident of Orange Farm, a dusty township outside Johannesburg.

For more than a week, Khulu and hundreds of other residents around Johannesburg have protested at squalid living conditions in Africa’s richest city by blocking a major road with burning tyres and rocks.

“Politicians have money for big houses, luxury cars and expensive clothes but they are not earning their money by doing things for the poor,” said Khulu, who is unemployed.

“For 20 years I have lived in a shack. Nothing has changed for us after apartheid ended. Things have gotten worse.”

Residents accuse city officials of corruption and pocketing money meant to be used to upgrade roads and other infrastructure.

Despite emerging from a recession in the third quarter of last year, South Africa is only projecting modest growth this year, limiting what President Jacob Zuma’s government can spend on infrastructure, which it says is a priority.

Demands are reasonable

The African National Congress’s Parliamentary chief whip Mathole Motshekga said on Tuesday that the demands of Orange Farm residents were reasonable.

“Their demands are reasonable as you can see that projects are unfinished here and there’s sewage in the streets. The ball is now in our court as government to address the issue,” he said after meeting with community members on Tuesday.

Motshekga said more political oversight was needed in the area to ensure that people given government contracts were completing them.

This was after he was shown an incomplete road with some of the building material still on the scene.

He would take the people’s grievances back to the government to be urgently addressed, he said.

Motshekga visited various sections of Orange Farm on Tuesday and was shown unfinished roads and sewage flowing down the streets into people’s houses. He was also shown an area with gravel roads and another where people had to be moved because of water.

“The government moved people from Lakeside because it is a wetland, but some still insist on living there. We cannot have a country where everybody decides what they want; we need a firmer government on such issues,” Motshekga said.

Meyerton protests

Meanwhile, residents from Meyerton, south of Johannesburg, blocked the Johann le Roux Road with rocks on Wednesday morning in a protest against the local council, reported Eye Witness News.

The residents apparently mounted their protest after the council moved to repossess the property of residents who had not paid their rates and taxes, said Eye Witness News.

IOL: Heavy police presence in Orange Farm

Burnt tyres block Golden Highway
February 23 2010 at 11:02AM

Protests against poor service delivery continued along the Golden Highway on Tuesday with police closing the road and then re-opening it shortly after 10am, Johannesburg metro police said.

Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the Golden Highway had again been closed after protesters burned tyres and blocked the road with rocks.

While the road was later re-opened, he advised motorists to use the N1 as an alternative route.

Police were keeping a close eye on the situation where angry residents pelted police with stones and burnt tyres on Monday.

Protesting Orange Farm residents began demonstrating at around 1am on Monday and around 3pm the 1500 residents started pelting police with stones and damaging their vans in the process.

Police retaliated by firing teargas and rubber bullets and arrested 30 people for public violence.

A metro police official was sent to Lenmed hospital in Lenasia, south of Johannesburg after he was injured on his leg during the protest. – Sapa

Heavy police presence in Orange Farm

By Lebogang Seale and Kim Tshukulu, 24 February

Residents of Orange Farm, south of Joburg, continued to wage running battles with the police on Tuesday morning as they tried to intensify their protest action over alleged poor service delivery.

Drieziek Extensions 1, 3, 4 and 8 of the township – where most of the violent protests have been concentrated – appeared to have been calm early on Tuesday morning following Monday’s incidents. But shortly before 8am, a crowd of disgruntled residents marched through the streets towards the busy Golden Highway and again barricaded the road with burning tyres, rocks, logs and road signs. Police had to fire stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd that was quickly swelling as more and more residents joined in.

For a moment, the police appeared to have managed to keep the protesters at bay, but time and again, incidents of looting were reported on some stores in the settlement. Scores of people, including children, were arrested on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property.

The busy highway was opened to traffic shortly before 10am and the police were maintaining a heavy presence.

The Times: Orange Farm wants promises kept

Click here for video footage of the protest and here to see how this memorandum delivered in Orange Farm connects to that delivered to Yakoob Baig by the Kennedy Road Development Committee back on 14 September 2005.

Orange Farm wants promises kept
Thabo Mkhize Published:May 20, 2009

ANGRY residents of Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, yesterday barricaded a busy road with rocks and burning tyres to protest against government’s poor service delivery.

This was the first service delivery protest to take place since President Jacob Zuma took office two weeks ago. Residents of the township demanded that pre-election promises should be delivered, and soon.

Protesters, who began blocking roads at 2am, claimed their area has been neglected and demanded that the newly appointed Gauteng premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, pay the area a visit to see it for herself.

Protest leader Xolani Nkosi, 29, warned government that worse was to come if it failed to address their grievances.

“What we did today was small; we’re going to do worse things. They can shoot us if they want to, all we are doing is fighting for service delivery,” he said.

Nkosi said that a memorandum outlining their grievances had been given to local councillor Silwayiphi Mkhize, who was given until Saturday to come up with a plan to resolve their problems.

He claimed several protesters were shot at and injured by police, a claim denied by police spokesman Inspector Molefe Mokoena.

“No one has been arrested, no shots fired and no one was injured,” Mokoena said.

Gift Gwebu, another aggrieved resident, said: “Before the elections they put up street lights but since we’ve voted everything has stopped. We are will cause chaos,” Gwebu said.

He said residents were angry that R52-million had been budgeted to improve service delivery in the area, but residents still faced health risks from burst sewage pipes, which flooded the neighbourhood with effluent.

In the memorandum protesters called on Mkhize to resign within two weeks or “we, ourselves will declare that Ward Two does not have a councillor”.

The Star: ‘Protesting is our last resort’

‘Protesting is our last resort’

When a police Nyala drove through barriers of burning tyres and rubble that had been used to barricade the Golden Highway, Bricks Mokolo was reminded of the grim events of September 1984.

Then, the protests in the Vaal region against rent increases imposed by the Vaal council left almost 50 people dead. For Mokolo, protests on the same highway in Orange Farm struck a chord.

It was chaos where he stood. Police sirens and radios blared. Dark clouds of smoke from burning tyres billowed.

Mokolo observed the similarities in the manner in which the protests were conducted and the reaction by the police against angry protesters. But first he had to acknowledge that the demands by the communities were slightly different.

This time, only a handful of protesters were arrested, while several were wounded by rubber bullets.

“People then were fighting against discriminatory policies based on race,” he recalled. “Now it is the fight against selective development approaches between the rich and the poor.”

Over the past two weeks, Orange Farm has been a battleground, with police firing rubber bullets at stone-throwing and sjambok-wielding protesters who blockaded the highway.

It’s nothing new. Residents have made it a habit to blockade the highway with rocks and burning tyres demanding service delivery at least once every year. It has been the only way for them to focus the authorities’ attention on their plight.

“Towards the festive season, poor people face more challenges in their households than at any other period of the year,” explained Mokolo, a community leader in the area.

“People want to live and enjoy the festive season with proper infrastructure in place. They look at their neighbours living in other areas and they suddenly realise they are still deprived even in the new dispensation.”

Established in 1987, the sprawl of Orange Farm, south of Joburg, has an estimated population of more than 350 000. The area remains one of the most underdeveloped with its scenery alternating between dusty gravel roads and shackland dumping grounds.

There might have been an increase in the number of people who now have access to clean water and electricity, but sanitation, roads and houses have been elusive.

For Julia Senokoane, life has been hard for 17 years in Driezek 1, Orange Farm.

In 2004, her son, the only breadwinner and the person she had hoped would built her a house, passed away, leaving two children. Now her hopes of getting a proper house are slowing fading.

The 53 year-old lives in a derelict three-room shack with her two grandchildren and survives on the children’s monthly grant.

She couldn’t join hundreds of her neighbours who took their frustration to the streets, but she was equally angry and supported the demonstrations.

“We have tried everything possible on this earth, including signing petitions and marching peacefully to the local council offices, but nothing has changed,” says Senokoane. “All I want now is a house – one that I can sleep peacefully in with my grandchildren when it rains.”

As she continued talking, her voice rose: “For how long shall we wait to see a promise of a better life fulfilled?” she asked.

“We have had enough of empty promises by the government, and neglect as though we don’t exist at all.”

Mokolo believes the lack of service delivery has brought new hardships in many households in Orange Farm. “This is a silent war that is ravaging families and tearing households apart. People are frustrated,” he added.

People, he continues, were dying silently in their homes. “We last saw these kinds of community revolts in the 1980s. The amount of anger I have seen here has made me think we could be taken back.”

Mokolo’s memories of random violence and frustration, with people destroying their own communities, are vivid because he took part in the Vaal uprisings.

He saw the riots damage many households in other ways. They sent many of his comrades on different paths.

He could, he said, have joined those who now sit in council chambers and drive around in expensive 4x4s, but he chose to be with the poor, where the struggle was yet to end.

The 49-year-old has been instrumental in educating and organising the Orange Farm community to stand up and fight for their right to decent living conditions and housing delivery.

Still, Aviva Manqa, spokesperson for Gauteng Housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyane, insists the government has continuously engaged the community on its plans to deliver houses in the area.

“It is strange to us that despite public meetings being held where we have constantly reported back to the community about our comprehensive plans for development, they still go out and protest,” he states. “People need to understand that before service delivery of houses, there is a lot of paperwork that has to be done.”

He believes the government’s suspicion of a “third force” being involved in the protests was justified, a view Moloko dismisses as “apartheid-style rhetoric”.

Manqa states that part of the challenge the government faces in faster delivery of houses in the area was because some of the land was still in private hands.

In addition, he says, the provincial government has to wait for the approval of designs for housing by the City of Johannesburg.

“Once the designs are approved we will appoint a service provider for the sewer system. Hopefully this will happen soon.”

But Professor Sheila Meintjies, of Wits University’s political studies department, notes that the underlying message in all the service delivery protests is that poor people are frustrated, depressed and felt the government has failed to live up to its promises.

“There has been a growing problem of discontent among the poor communities because unemployment is very high and people can’t budge from extreme levels of poverty,” she says.

Meintjies adds that frustration among communities in informal settlement was brought about by a desire to see the better life they had been promised since 1994.

Hosiah Hlole, 74, who took part in the protests this week, says blockading the highway had become the only mechanism available for the community to get the authorities’ attention.

“Since 2004 no one has ever bothered to come and explain to us what their plans are for developing this area,” he says. “We will return to the streets to continue until something is done.”

Musi Kubheka, a member of the area’s street committee, which was set up to fight crime, says that despite several pleas made to local authorities for the provision of street lights, nothing had happened.

“The reasons they gave us for failing to deliver on their promises in the past years have been vague, and that is not what we want at the moment,” says Kubheka.

“The people want to hear a clear plan to develop their area with timeframes on when these developments will be taking place.”

“It is not like they are saying they want to overthrow the government,” reasons Mokolo. “They are merely saying ‘we want toilets’.”

* This article was originally published on page 8 of The Star on September 20, 2008


Published on the Web by IOL on 2008-09-20 08:51:00

The Star: Angry protesters barricade highway

September 16 2008 at 09:52AM

Orange Farm residents have taken their demands for proper sanitation, water and housing to the streets.

Hundreds of residents barricaded the Golden Highway with burning tyres and rocks on Monday, making it difficult for motorists to pass through.

Community leader Bricks Makolo said the residents were supposed to have a meeting with the ward councillor, Meisie Msimango, on Sunday to discuss their grievances.

He claimed the residents waited until 11am and she did not come. “The residents got angry and decided to take action.

They will only speak to us when we protest. That’s how they want to work. We want basic services that are stated in the constitution. We want development.”

For several hours, police and metro police officers busied themselves removing the rocks that were placed by the residents. The protesting residents dispersed when police fired rubber bullets.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg municipal communications Manager Gabu Tugwana said Msimango did not make arrangements to meet the residents on Sunday.

He said issues raised by the community were being attended to. “We are calling for calm and patience among the community.”

Tugwana said 23 people had been arrested for public violence.

o This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on September 16, 2008