Gauteng Premier promises a “realistic” plan for services in Slovo Park

The settlement has waited for over two decades to be upgraded despite a 2016 court ruling in residents’ favour

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Hundreds of residents from Slovo Park, south of Johannesburg, attend a meeting with Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and other government officials in the wake of violent protests earlier this month. Photos: Chris Gilili

  • Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has promised residents of Slovo Park, south of Johannesburg that he will return in about three weeks to provide a “realistic” plan to deal with serious service delivery challenges in the community.
  • On Wednesday, Lesufi and other officials met with hundreds of residents who voiced their frustrations with enduring decades of poor living conditions.
  • Lesufi’s visit comes weeks after a teenager was killed during violent protests by community members who were demanding better service delivery.
  • The Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI) says Lesufi’s promises are not enough for a community that has waited for over two decades to be upgraded.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has committed to provide a “realistic” plan to deal with serious service delivery challenges for residents of Slovo Park, south of Johannesburg.

“I don’t want to lie and say tomorrow there will be water and electricity for those without. I want to plan it properly and present realistic things. I will tell you what I can’t do and what I can, and give you timelines,” Lesufi told Slovo Park residents who cheered in response to this promise.

Lesufi joined Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda, MEC for Community Safety Faith Mazibuko, MEC for Local Government Mzi Khumalo, and other government officials who met with hundreds of residents to discuss what led to violent protests in the community earlier this month.

Angry residents had closed the N12 Highway with burning tyres and stones during the protests in which 16-year-old Karabo Chaka was allegedly killed by the police.

Despite Slovo Park being established about 30 years ago, residents still use pit latrines, have poor water supply, and have a partial electrification project.

In 2014, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) launched an application on behalf of residents against the City’s failure to apply to the Gauteng Provincial Government for funding to upgrade Slovo Park in terms of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP).

Two years later, the court ruled in favour of Slovo Park residents and found the City had acted unlawfully by failing to apply the UISP. The court ordered the City to start the process prescribed in the UISP and set down time frames.

On Wednesday, Lesufi told residents: “You deserve to sleep and walk in peace. I issued an instruction to the MEC yesterday for the police to patrol all corners of Slovo Park. Every weekend at the end of the month, I will personally lead the police patrols.”

Lesufi promised that by the end of September, he will return to Slovo Park to update the community. “I will tell you how much we can spend and you will tell me what must be prioritised. We will demonstrate to you that there is a budget for Slovo Park. I will engage the provincial government and the City,” he said.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi at the meeting in Slovo Park on Wednesday.

Slovo Park Community Development Forum chairperson Lerato Marole criticised government officials for failing their community for years.

“Every financial year, Slovo Park features in the budget, but nothing follows. We spent seven years with a Task Team that was supposed to help us and nothing happened,” he said.

Marole claimed that Slovo Park was home to over 18,000 people, who only had access to eight public toilets. “It is inhumane. When it’s raining here, a disabled person cannot go to the toilet. Crime is out of control here. Guns are in the hands of wrong people here.”

Resident Patricia Motaung said: “MEC Mazibuko came here sometime ago. I told you about the challenges of using filthy and indecent toilets as women in Slovo Park. But nothing has changed. I am standing here heartbroken. Our ward councilor is failing us.”

Nomthunzi Nganase, who has lived in Slovo Park for more than 20 years, said their biggest problem is sanitation. “It’s difficult to maintain good hygiene here. If we can get flush toilets, that would mean a lot. We are truly hoping to see the Premier again after three weeks”, said Nganase.

Senior attorney at the Socio Economic Rights Institute (SERI) Khululiwe Bhengu said Lesufi’s promises were not enough for a community that has waited for more than two decades for upgrading.

“While law and order and the creation of employment are important, the main reason the community protested and requested to be addressed by the Premier was the issue of the delayed upgrading of the settlement despite an order of court.

“The only commitment the Premier made is to call for an urgent Cabinet meeting and to revert to the community in three weeks about the way forward. We also hope that there will be a plan for interim services in the settlement while the upgrading processes are underway,” said Bhengu.

TOPICS:  Sanitation Water

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