/ 22 April 2021

The rot and rotten goings-on in Emfuleni municipality

Vaal Environmental Pollution From Sewage Overflow Photo Delwyn Verasamy
Foul: Pigs root in sludge in Emfuleni municipality. (Photo: Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The Emfuleni municipality is committing a crime against humanity and is guilty of corruption.

This sounds severe but when one lives in the Vaal Triangle, this is exactly what the ANC-run local municipality in Gauteng has visited upon its ratepayers.

The pitiful situation that residents find themselves in is all caused by mismanagement and corruption. It has been reported time and again in the news media and on television.

The problem is the council has been under semi-administration for two years and absolutely nothing has changed — in fact, it has gone from bad to worse.

Peacehaven is a small area near Three Rivers, a suburb of Vereeniging. It has constant electrical interruption problems and two weeks ago the substation burnt out. To date, authority to acquire parts and do repairs has not even been issued and the citizens of Peacehaven have been rampaging for two weeks. 

Streets on fire, rubbish and glass all over the show. Personally I don’t blame them. Any caring government or council would have, at the very least, provided some sort of backup generators for the area. But wait, there’s more: Emfuleni is bankrupt and can’t even pay attention, let alone pay for electricity repairs. I fear Peacehaven is in for a long, cold, dark winter.

Note: at the time of writing, the main road into Three Rivers through to Heidelberg is closed because of unrest.

There are older people, disabled people and children living in this area and to my knowledge it is the duty of the state to care for them.

Three Rivers went without electricity for 18 days late last year. Ratepayers were more sedate and requested meetings with administrators appointed by the province to render assistance. A meeting was held, but nothing came of it. After 18 days a cable was finally acquired and joined and there was light.

Sharpeville is an older township adjacent to Vereeniging that at one time had a library, a clinic and tarred roads — oh, and running water. Residents had no water for three weeks last month. People had to push wheelbarrows to carry the containers of water they filled at petrol stations or places where there were taps with running water. 

Where was Emfuleni municipality? Oh, that’s right — nowhere. Sleeping comfortably in their cosy beds,bathing in their fancy bathrooms without a care for the people who have nothing. There were water carriers, but these were insufficient and the people stood in queues for hours.

Water, yes, the necessity of life. Areas in Sebokeng and town central were without water because of low pressure being applied by Rand Water because the Emfuleni municipality didn’t pay its bills. Town central has many poor and older people living there and these people are vulnerable. Does the local government want an outbreak of cholera before it steps in?

Sewage and the Vaal River has been well-documented and the world knows that we are run by a party that thinks nothing of allowing municipalities to destroy an entire water system. When one drives near the river be thankful for your Covid mask. The stench is like an open sewer – which it is. The army has been brought in to assist. Emfuleni ran out of money; her majesty Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has been here (twice that I know of) and finally delivered her enlightening statement that it is the white forefather farmers who have damaged the water system. Say what?

So where to now with regard to the Vaal? Certainly the government has no plan and nor does the Emfuleni municipality. If there is not an outbreak of cholera I will be surprised.

Regarding maintenance of municipal infrastructure, the ratepayers have given up on this because the Emfuleni municipality is broke.

Debt is also well documented and published far and wide, and still Emfuleni has no shame. It owes Rand Water and Eskom billions and recently Telkom cut the phone service. Bankrupt and shameful.

Despite requests for meaningful government intervention, the only thing that has changed is that it’s getting worse every day. I call this a crime against humanity because the ratepayers are helplessly caught in the middle. We pay, but for what? The Emfuleni municipality has now, in its wisdom, decided to increase rates, water, electricity and waste charges. This is in one of the poorest areas where we have an unemployment rate well above the norm, though the ANC will deny this. How do they expect people who are pensioners, unemployed and on the verge of losing their possessions, to pay for a service that is non-existent and is merely there to pay the staff and council their salaries? Did I mention that they clear their salaries before anything else is even considered?

Emfuleni municipality is perpetrating crimes against people; it’s run by a gang of corrupt managers. When will anyone take action to assist the people in this area?

A new administrator was recently appointed. Mr Martins has met local businessmen but nothing fundamental has changed.

So to all the people who would like to see change, you won’t get it if you keep voting for the ANC, which is now known as the A(mbivalent), N(efarious), C(orrupt) party. Wouldn’t it be great to have a new party of sincere, honest, responsible people? It’s a pipe dream, but we can start with Herman Mashaba and Tuli Madonsela. I would vote for them.