News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
22 Aug 2017
5:20 am

Grannies form human barrier between cops and protesters

Virginia Keppler

More than 400 protesters who were bused in from Winterveldt and Ga-Rankuwa gathered at Marabastad.

Protesting residents from townships in the North of Pretoria are seen outside the Tshwane House, 21 August 2017, they demand the city of Thswane to reverse their decision to absorb Sandspruit Works Association into the city and take over its water service delivery functions, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

About 100 grandmothers formed a human barrier between their fellow protesters and officers of the Tshwane Metro Police Department in front of Tshwane House yesterday morning during a service delivery protest march.

More than 400 protesters carrying placards saying “Our silence is not stupidity” and “Solly take your one bill and shove it up your white bosses”, were bused in from Mabopane, Klipgat, Winterveldt and Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, and gathered at Marabastad.

They then marched to Tshwane House in the city centre where they demanded that the Sandspruit Works Association (SWA) be reinstated.

On July 1, the city absorbed the SWA and took over its water service delivery functions. SWA provided water, sanitation and related services to the communities but the city stated that it was not satisfactory.

The city also wants to recover outstanding debts amounting to R754 million to improve infrastructure maintenance and expand service delivery. Community leader Joseph Manotowana said this resolution was taken without consulting the communities.

“The new billing system that the city implemented is one bill that connects water, electricity and rates and taxes. This means if you are not able to pay for water and you want to buy electricity, the council will take some of your electricity money to pay for your water.

“The council must remember that we are from disadvantaged communities with a high unemployment rate. Many of the people are grandmothers and [grandfathers] who only receive pension grants,” Manotowana said.

He said they wrote to the city about their dissatisfaction, but without any luck. The marchers demanded that the resolution be reversed and that Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga appoint an interim board which must include residents of the townships.

They also demand that all legal action taken against nonpaying residents or those in arrears be reversed. Marchers claimed that since the DA-led administration took over, there had been no service delivery.

They said a sewerage spillage had been left unattended and also complained about street lights and bad roads. They further demanded that the council establish ward committees.

The marchers gave the city 14 days to respond to their demands. City spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi said they received the memorandum and would consider it. –