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Residents of Goodhope informal settlement tired of empty promises and false hope

Several community members from the Goodhope informal settlement stand close to a burning pile of debris in Knights Road during a service delivery protest.

Residents of Goodhope informal settlement, tired of years of empty promises from the metro, took to the streets on Wednesday night, continuing into Thursday morning, to demand that things change and the metro delivers on its promises.

When journalists from the Germiston City News and sister newspaper Bedfordview and Edenvale NEWS arrived on the scene, they were met by the sight of smoke billowing in the air as burning tyres and debris lined the streets, leaving Lower Boksburg and Knights roads, which flank the settlement, completely closed off to traffic.

Numerous residents of the settlement claimed that the metro has not provided service delivery and infrastructure to the community despite making endless promises to do so.

Some of the issues raised included a lack of electricity, no drainage infrastructure and no working toilets.

The journalists walked along Knights Road with community members who pointed out gutters filled with stagnant water mixed with sewage, and rats running through the winding alleyways, making their way into nearby shacks.

Happy Ramothata, a resident of Goodhope since 1995, said service delivery to the community has always been lacking.

ALSO READ: ALERT: Protest action in Germiston — avoid Lower Boksburg and Knights roads

“In the past, officials have come to the community and said they will provide service delivery, but nothing ever happens.

“We are voting for them but getting nothing in return,” Ramothata said.

Tshepo Khumalo, who has lived in the area for seven years, said nobody has been listening to the concerns of the community.

“Every day is a struggle here. We have no proper toilets and no electricity in our homes.

“We are lucky that we at least have running water,” he explained.

In 2017, mobile toilets were provided to the community.

Khumalo said although the mobile toilets are cleaned by the metro, in the summer months the smell is unbearable.

Khumalo said that as a result of the poor living conditions in the settlement, many of its residents often get sick.

“We just want someone to listen to us,” he added.

On top of a lack of services within the established settlement, residents are desperate for more land.

“We identified a piece of vacant land close to Elsburg Road,” explained Sizwe Mpaxa, provincial organiser of Abahlali Basemjondolo.

Protesters said they have tried contacting the municipality through the correct channels but have had no success.

“The land has been vacant for more than 30 years, and we have approached the metro on several occasions, asking them to help us to occupy the land,” said Mpaxa.

“We appealed to the metro to find out if the land was state or privately owned and if privately owned to speak to the owner and negotiate a price so they could buy it and we can live on it.”

Not receiving the help they needed, residents took it upon themselves to occupy the land, with a number of residents building shacks.

“On Wednesday the EMPD burnt the shacks to the ground,” Mpaxa alleged.

“The shacks’ owners were not even given the opportunity to collect their belongings before the officers destroyed them.”

ALSO READ: New hygienic age for Dukhatole

He further claimed that the EMPD could not give residents a court order stating that they were to destroy the dwellings.

This was the final straw for residents, who then took to the streets.

Protesting community members were up all night blocking the roads.

“The EMPD fired rubber bullets and tear gas at us, even though we were not being violent,” Mpaxa said.

One resident, Portia Mrwebi, was hit in the thigh by one of the rubber bullets.

“We were sitting on the road and the EMPD officers told us to leave, though we were not being violent,” she said.

“They began to fire the rubber bullets and tear gas and even though I was in the middle of the crowd, I was hit.”

Residents claimed that during this attack by the EMPD, tear gas was fired into the informal settlement, affecting community members who were not even active in the protest, including a number of children whose parents had to take them to hospital.

Residents are waiting for either Ward 93 councillor Jerry Moimana or representatives from the metro to come and address their issues.

“We want the metro to come to us because we do not trust them not to arrest our leadership if we go to them,” Mpaxa said.

The EMPD, Germiston SAPS and metro were all contacted for comment but are yet to respond.

Have a story?

Contact the newsroom by emailing: Melissa Hart (Editor) [email protected]or Leigh Hodgson (News Editor) [email protected] or Kgotsofalang Mashilo (journalist) [email protected]

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Catch-up on more local news with our sister newspapers Bedfordview Edenvale News, Alberton Record and Kempton Express.

  AUTHOR
Leigh Hodgson and Stephan Lehman

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