23 November 2015
More than 1,000 residents of KwaMsane in Mtubatuba, KZN, took to the street last week to demand services. After years of fruitless complaints and meetings, the protesters plan to close the N2 on Thursday.
KwaMsane township falls under Umkhanyakude District Municipality.
Community spokesperson Malusi Myeni says residents have been raising concerns for ten years about water, electricity, sanitation and roads.
The community has one borehole that supplies water for thousands of community members.
“Some of us are now forced to queue for 20 litres of water that costs R25. We would not have reached this stage if the relevant bodies had taken our concerns seriously when we raised them. There are a lot of leaking pipes … Some of the people have to travel long distances to collect water from this one borehole,” said Myeni.
“We have been suffering enough with the issue of the electricity in Mtubatuba as a whole. The municipality buys electricity from Eskom and the residents buy it from the municipality. The problem is that sometimes one goes to buy electricity at the municipality only to find that they don’t have it [the municipality says there is no electricity]. That sometimes lasts for three days. What does that mean? It means we will be without electricity for three days. We are tired of being the victims of their negligence,” he said.
“For years we have had leaking sewerage pipes that are being unattended. That alone creates health hazards in the area. We are now forced to have pit toilets. They are not fixing things and yet we have to pay rates. How do we pay rates while we are living under these conditions? Both national and provincial government must attend to our concerns. If they don’t, we will fight until they see a need to act and attend to our demands,” said Thobekile Mpanza, a resident.
Myeni said that before the community embarked on the protest they had met and created a task team to head the talks with the relevant government departments.
“In the end, we decided that we [must] take it to the street, seeking attention from the provincial and national level,” said Myeni.
Ward 1 councilor Makhosandile Kheswa said he is aware of the problems. “I know there is an issue of water and electricity … We have met with the relevant people such as the municipality and they have promised to sort out the matter. I cannot confirm when these matters will be sorted because I was not given a date.”
Major Thulani Zwane from the KZN police media centre said, “We can confirm that KwaMsane Police Station is investigating a case of arson … It is alleged that a community hall was burnt by the protesters who were protesting about service delivery in the area. Eight suspects were arrested and charged for [attending an] illegal public gathering. They are due to appear at KwaMsane Magistrates’ Court soon,” said Zwane.
The municipality was unavailable for comment. Despite emails, text messages and phone calls to the Umkhanyakude Municipality’s spokesperson, Mduduzi Dlamini, there has been no response.
Meanwhile, the community has vowed to undertake a “huge” protest on Thursday.
KwaMsane resudetns protest in the early hours of 19 November 2015. Photo by Ntombi Mbomvu.