'Voting has not brought change'
RESIDENTS of Emalahleni informal settlement in Klipspruit, Soweto, believe their plight has fallen on deaf ears.
The settlement, near the Nancefield train station, was established in 1976 and is mushrooming.
Back then, no one could see the shacks when travelling along the Klipspruit Valley Road, but now they are visible.
It is estimated that about 2000 people live in the area.
Resident and area committee member Thembalakhe Jaca said some of the first people to arrive in the area have since died while many others had moved elsewhere.
But, Jaca said, the situation was getting worse as more people moved into the area to build shacks.
"We do not have flushing toilets and electricity. There are only three taps for the whole area, but only one works properly," said Jaca.
"We have been voting, but that has not brought us any change. We still live in a dire situation. It seems as though government does not care about us.
"Our councillor (Zodwa Nxumalo) came to the area just before the last local government elections.
"She said she wanted to listen to our needs and promised to come back to us. We tabled our needs, but she has not returned. We put our trust in her," he said.
Jaca said the residents needed houses.
"Our shacks get flooded when it rains. The authorities have been saying we cannot live in this area because it is not safe, but they are not clear as to where we should go from here," Jaca said.
He added that he was more concerned about the future of the youth in the area.
"They do not get early childhood education because there are no daycare centres here.
"The nearest schools are in Pimville or Orlando East and that is a long walk for our children," he lamented.
When Sowetan arrived in the area, the team found young and old women with buckets standing in a queue to draw water.
Children were everywhere.
Some played under a disused table and there was rubbish all around. There was a smell of urine and the area had an unbearable stench.
"We are afraid there might be snakes here. We live next to reeds. We do see a snake every now and then," said resident Lindelwa Bavu, 51.
Many residents sit idle while others do their laundry. Some cut each others' hair while others gamble.
"The unemployment rate in the area is at 95%. People here depend on the child grant," Jaca said.
He said they knew that the area was not safe, especially for children.
"We are here not by choice, but because we do not have anywhere else to go.
"The authorities have been making promises, but they never deliver.
"We will believe (them) when we see development happening," Jaca said.
At the far end of the shacks, residents have built pit toilets for themselves.
"The holes are deep and a child could easily fall in there and drown or get badly injured. We need urgent help," Jaca said.