Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Alex citizens just want it ‘to be nice’

Martha Ranamane says that she hates that there is no fresh air in Alex. “There’s dumping next to the school, and there are toilets next to the church. That’s why we have rats here.”

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, the 67-year-old says that all she wants is for Alex to be “nice” — maybe like Soweto, she says, where they have decent houses and tarred roads.

Ranamane’s friend, Magdalene Khunou, has lived in Alex since her birth in 1952, but still doesn’t have a house to call her own. “I live in a shack with my grandchildren. I’ve been waiting for the government to give me a house since 1996,” she says.

Ranamane and Khunou are just two of the many citizens of Alexandra who are frustrated at the state of things. Speaking to the community after the #TotalShutDown protests in early April, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted some of the issues that residents in the area were facing, and said that he was “disturbed” by the high levels of filth. “Sewerage and human waste is all over the streets. We cannot allow that. It is upon the shoulders of the local government to clean up this area — we cannot allow our people to live amongst rats. Alexandra and Ward 105, is not a dumping ground,” Ramaphosa said.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa addresses Alexandra, says he thought Mashaba would have come first

Margaret Dlamini, 50, lives in Alex in a one-bedroom house with her five children, who range in age from 16 to 28. Her children’s father left for Lesotho five years ago, neither Dlamini nor her children have heard from him since. Dlamini, who is unemployed, says that she and her children live off of the R830 a month that she gets from the government as a grant for her sixteen-year-old twins. The family does not have a fridge in its home, and prepare food on a two-plate stove. Dlamini and her twins share a broken double bed, while her other children sleep on the floor. “When one of us want to bath, everyone else has to go outside”, Dlamini explained, saying that their place of living is too small for anyone to have any privacy.

READ MORE: Alex’s answer — Relocations

“Promise, promise, promise — but nothing”, says 54-year-old Elsie, who preferred not to give her full name, tells the M&G. “That’s the problem. Service delivery. Our place is dirty. We have waiting lists since 1996. This is Alex. And people are struggling.”

“There are houses being built on the pavements. There is barely space for us to walk”, she says. According to her, Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals are taking up the space. “I wouldn’t go to Zimbabwe and build a shack whoever I wanted to. Mugabe wouldn’t let me. So why must we allow it here?”

Ben Motloutsi, 49, has lived in Alex for the past 25 years. Without offering more detail, Motloutsi says that he was dismissed in 2007. “I have never seen process in Alex,” he tells the M&G as he sits on a couch in his small home. “Our people that we loved in the ANC are corrupt,” he says. “They ate our money. We are suffering.”

Televised proceedings of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture play in the background as Motloutsi tells the M&G, “these are the people who robbed us of our money.”

READ MORE: Despair drives #AlexShutDown

The father-of-two, whose wife died in 2004, lives with his son, who is in matric at a school around the corner from their home. He relies on his 30-year-old daughter, who lives in Kempton Park, to support the two of them. “I want my child to be educated,” he says. “If he doesn’t go to school, he’s going to end up being a thief.”

Life is difficult for Motloutsi. He is really struggling, he says.“You can’t walk in the streets because people are building shacks there. And this is not a DA problem. This is ANC’s problem- they didn’t do what they promised us before. Nothing has happened,” he says. “This is not what Mandela wanted. Since Zuma, I hate this government.”

“Truly speaking, I support the EFF — all the corruption, the EFF are the ones calling for it to end,” he says.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel
Aaisha Dadi Patel was previously a member of the M&G’s online team. She holds an MA in Media Studies from the University of the Witwatersrand

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Phoenix activist takes on Durban’s politically connected in November polls

Independent candidates look set to play a greater role in the metro municipality after 1 November

Libyan town clings to memory of Gaddafi, 10 years on

Rebels killed Muammar Gaddafi in his hometown of Sirte on 20 October 2011, months into the Nato-backed rebellion that ended his four-decade rule

Fishing subsidies in the W. Cape: ‘Illegal fishing is our...

Fishers claim they are forced into illegal trawling because subsidies only benefit big vessels
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×