Tracy Lee Stark
Photographer and Multimedia Producer
2 minute read
6 May 2015
6:00 pm

Elderly Soweto residents take to the streets in protest

Tracy Lee Stark

Alfred Maseko, who marched together with Hector Pieterson on June 16, 1976, joined other elderly Orlando West residents in Soweto today in protests against Eskom’s demands for higher rates.

Residents of Orlando West, Soweto, mainly pensioners protest over lack of jobs for the youth as well as against Eskom demanding more money, 6 May 2015. The residents blocked of all the roads surrounding Orlando West allowing no one to enter the popular tourist areas. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Maseko told The Citizen it was time to take action again. The pensioners, all well into their 60s and 70s moved, rocks and tyres across the road before setting the tyres alight. They then blocked all the roads surrounding Orlando West, allowing no one to enter the popular tourist areas.

“I was hoping today’s actions would be heard as they were on June 16 1976,” Maseko said, while laughing. “I still do not speak Afrikaans. I hope they will listen to us today like they did back then.”

Maseko said he had hoped that after nearly 40 years, something would have changed. He said he lives with his two children, one of whom is studying at Unisa, while the other cannot find a job. “I’m battling to take care of them with my pension of R1 500 per month,” he said.

Last year the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) said it would allow Eskom to raise electricity prices 12.69% in April this year to help it recover R7.8 billion in costs. The increase is 4.7% points above the 8% tariff increase originally agreed to for this year to March 2016.

When Maseko heard Eskom about the higher rates, he decided together with residents in the area that they would once again take to the streets to vent their frustrations.

While taking a break from dancing during the protest, Lindiwe Mhlongo told The Citizen she also supported her three children and her grandchildren on her sole pension of R1 500 per month.

“It was time for the youth to get jobs so that the old people in politics and parliament must leave. They should make way for the youth, the likes of Mmusi Maimane and EFF leader Julius Malema,” she said. “The old people of the ANC who I voted for need to move on.”

Another woman at the demonstration yesterday, who was well into her 70s, only regretted that she had not had her morning tea. She said she would remain steadfast and not move until a resolution was found.