Residents hold official hostage

Canaan Mdletshe

Incensed Siyanda residents in KwaMashu, north of Durban, locked a development committee official in her house to demand service delivery.

Thalitha Mhlongo was locked inside for more than four hours yesterday morning by more than 300 angry residents, mostly women, complaining about lack of service delivery and development. She was unable to take her 10-year-old daughter to school.

Police were called to rescue her. The crowd, swearing and threatening violence, dispersed after local councillor Mduduzi Madondo spoke to them.

One of the protestors, Gugu Yende, said: "We have many problems and our councillor is as rare as a desert bloom.

"We felt that if we targeted one of the committee members, he would respond to our grievances," she said.

Yende said their problems related to low-cost houses built in 2003.

"Our houses are leaking when it rains, some have cracks and some don't have electricity and water.

"It's just a mess and we can't get hold of our councillor to report all these problems," she said.

Yende showedSowetan how her toilet bowl could be easily picked up because it was just placed on the ground. When she flushed it, water splashed all over the place.

Mhlongo said she understood their plight.

"Most of them don't have electricity and I do, and some don't have water, which I have.

"My sin is that I work with the councillor and now I have become a victim," Mhlongo said.

Madondo denied that he was inaccessible.

"It's all lies. I have an office where I work. We are electrifying the houses in Siyanda, not on the basis that your neighbour has it so you must also have it.

"It's a process. I think there's a motive behind all this," he said.