MINISTER of Human Settlements Tokyo Sexwale says he does not mind getting his expensive shoes dirty, coming down to the ground and having a taste of how the poor live.
Yesterday Sexwale walked through the uneven mud and gravel streets in Diepsloot informal settlement, north of Johannesburg, where he had to negotiate filthy streams and puddles of raw human sewage.
"About 50 years ago I was born in a squatter camp like this in Orlando, Soweto, where the stadium now is.
"It is unfortunate that today we still have the same situation," said Sexwale speaking at a place where sewage had formed a pool.
Most people that he greeted did not know who he was.
"This place was not always this filthy. It is like this because we now live here, but we have nowhere else to go," said 42-year-old Dinah Mabe, who has lived in the area since 1999.
"I am here because I need to work. We do not like like living like this but there is no option."
Martin Malepe of Extension 1, who had a brief chat with Sexwale, said that the minister asked him why he was not at work.
"I told him that jobs are hard to come by. Maybe things will improve with the new government but I am not pinning my hopes on these people anymore because a lot of them have lied to us."
Malepe said that he was looking for work in Johannesburg so he cannot afford to be moved far from where he now lives.
This is after his community took to the streets in violent protest amid rumours that they would be moved to Brits.
When Sexwale told the community he would spend the night in Diepsloot, an unidentified lady exclaimed, "Just one night," to the amusement of the crowd.
When Sexwale said that people affected by Joburg Water's sewer pipe line upgrades would have no option but to move, some people exclaimed in annoyed tones.
Sexwale said that the government had resource constraints but was committed to changing lives.
"No easy promises. Sometimes as government we run around like headless chickens (but) we have to be realistic because things cannot be done overnight," Sexwale said.