There used to be violent protests during apartheid and now that they are in power, they want to us to just keep quiet and not raise our grievances over service delivery challenges.
These are the views of a concerned resident from Bekkersdal, west of Johannesburg, ahead of the launch of the “I care, We care” campaign by the Gauteng infrastructure development department on Wednesday.
The campaign seeks to educate and encourage members of the public not to burn public buildings whenever they protest against lack of service delivery in their respective areas. “This campaign is just all about empty words. These ANC politicians are just coming here to campaign ahead of the local government elections,” the 62-year-old resident who did not want to be named told The Citizen on Wednesday morning.
He said there had been no development in the area following violent unrest in 2013, adding that nothing had been done to improve the lives of residents since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Many residents who spoke to The Citizen on condition of anonymity on Wednesday morning said a call for the non-destruction of public buildings during protests, would have possibly been well received by some if it came from one of the local residents. Some who did not look as if they were going to attend the campaign launch, could be heard talking among themselves saying they would rather vote for opposition parties.
Meanwhile, driving through the area on Wednesday morning, some people were seen sweeping and cleaning streets while next to a local informal settlement, two Caterpillars were seen doing some digging work.
Bekkersdal made headlines in 2013 when irate residents took to the streets, demanding that a local mayor be removed from her position, accusing her of nepotism and corruption. Several public buildings were burnt during the protests, which also saw ANC stalwart Winnie Madikizela Mandela visiting the area frequently.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo have also been frequent visitors to the area ever since the 2013 unrest. Today’s campaign launch comes at a time when several parts of the country have been gripped by violent protests. In a recent incident, media reports suggested that a Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus was torched in Meadowlands, Soweto on Tuesday night amid a protest over power outages.