Government has failed the residents of Marikana

05 October 2017 - 17:00
By Farren Collins

Little over a month after a high court ruling lambasted all three spheres of government for failing the residents of Cape Town’s Marikana Township‚ its inhabitants still feel ignored.

Since the few hours of horror that led to the massacre of 11 people in Marikana last Friday‚ neither the city’s mayor‚ Patricia De Lille‚ nor mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith have visited the area.

This week the two have been caught up in a highly publicised internal war‚ which resulted in both of them being placed on special leave from DA political activities.

De Lille was also a no-show on Thursday when Marikana residents joined the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) at the mayor’s office to hand over a memorandum of demands to bring relief to the area. City officials accepted the document on behalf of the mayor‚ who was at the opening of the Khayelitsha Training Centre.

Deputy General Secretary of the SJC Mandisa Dyantyi said they had not heard from the Mayor since violence in the area escalated recently.

“In my opinion she should have been there before people were killed to offer solutions‚” said Dyantyi.

Owners of the land where Marikana was established launched court action against government to have the illegal occupants evicted.

In August the Cape Town High Court ordered that the City of Cape Town has to purchase the privately-owned land where the township is situated‚ to bring much needed service delivery to its 60‚000 residents.

But the city has decided to appeal part of the judgment which ruled that the city had infringed on the resident's constitutional rights. This means that any purchase of land would be delayed and‚ with it‚ service delivery.

Dyantyi said the city was wasting valuable time and should get on with either buying or expropriating the land.

“The land needs to be owned by government or the community so that government is in a position to deliver services in the area.”

Marikana residents have no access to electricity‚ running water or sanitation‚ and a severe lack of lighting has made crime in the area commonplace and difficult to police.

Since the judgment‚ frustrated community members have been at war with local gangs who terrorise residents.

The conflict resulted in the killing of 23 people in less than three weeks‚ including alleged acts of vigilante justice against gang members by frustrated locals.

Even a visit from national police minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday was not enough to encourage residents that a solution would come. Community leader Thembani Landu described the visit as “political grandstanding”.

“All these politicians come and promise us things but we don’t see anything‚” Landu said.

“The minister spoke a lot but we haven’t seen anything change since he left. The things he says don’t give us hope.”

The SJC and residents delivered the memorandum to city and provincial officials before marching across the CBD where they were received by the SAPS provincial commissioner‚ Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula.

Some of the demands included that effective public lighting be erected in the area‚ a withdrawal of the city’s leave to appeal the high court judgment‚ greater oversight of police by IPID and improved resource allocation of police to Marikana.

Activist Zackie Achmat from Unite Behind‚ who took part in the march‚ called Mbalula a “show” minister and said that everyone had a right to safety and security.

“Twenty-eight deaths in six weeks is an emergency and 11 in one night is a tragedy that this country can’t afford‚” Achmat said.

“If the minister was serious he would support the SJC’s case in getting equal resources to people in townships.” Landu said the situation in Marikana was still chaotic and called for a task team to work with provincial and national government to find solutions.

Landu said: “Life is terrible in Marikana. People are packing up and leaving because they are scared for their lives. During the day and especially at night you don’t see people walking around. Even shops are closed and businesses are shutting down. Gangsterism is ruining the place.”

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said in a statement that an intervention programme in relation to issues pertaining to the Marikana informal settlement and the broader Philippi East police precinct is currently being implemented.

“The SAPS remains committed to a process that will find sustainable solutions to the challenges plaguing the Philippi East community‚” Potelwa said.