Scared villagers build own road

Frank Maponya and Nyeleti Machovani

It is two months since Sonnyboy Mokgotho tripped from a makeshift cable wire, fell into the overflowing Lepelle River and disappeared without trace.

Lepelle River is in Penge outside Burgersfort. The Penge community is still trying to cope with the disappearance of their fellow villager.

The villages of Mahlakoana, Mankele, Mabjaneng and Tading had been cut off from the rest of the area after heavy rains in January. The villagers were forced to use a home-made cable wire to cross the Lepelle River to the other side to access basic commodities.

Mokgotho, 27, fell into the river on January 26 and has never been seen since.

A road is needed in order for the villagers to cross to the other neighbouring villages where pupils also attend schools and have access to shops.

When Sowetan visited the area yesterday, a group of villagers was busy constructing a makeshift road.

The villagers said they did not care how long it took them to construct the road as long as it would ultimately lead to their respective villages. They used various implements to crush huge rocks and trees on the site earmarked for the road.

The villagers also accused the local Greater Tubatse Municipality (GTM) of dumping a dysfunctional bulldozer at their village. The bulldozer was allegedly supposed to assist in the construction of the road. The bulldozer has allegedly been standing idle for the past two months.

Josephine Mogofe, 62, said she would rather die trying to constructthe road manually than to risk her life using the cable wire to cross the overflowing river.

"I'm tired of risking my life by using the cable wire to cross over to the other side," said Mogofe.

The same sentiment was echoed by Joyce Maphori, 54, who committed herself to working with the other villagers to construct the much-sought after road for themselves and their children.

According to community leader Wade Maphori, Limpopo MEC for local government and housing Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told them during a visit last week that their only option was to make sure the villagers relocated to another area.

"But we are not going anywhere. Whoever wants us to relocate should rather think twice and channel the resources to the construction of the road," he said.

According to GTM spokesman Kubane Tolo, they need at least R140million to construct the road "and the municipality does not have that kind of money".