Impoverished residents of Ilinge hope for a better life after the local government elections on November 1.
Top of the residents’ wish list are basic services – water, proper sanitation, a reliable electricity supply and jobs.
“There is no service delivery in Ilinge. We do not have a municipality, we do not even have a municipal office here. We do not see the municipality cleaning here, but they say there is a municipality,” said a visibly frustrated local businessman, Andile Gezana.
He also lamented the high rate of unemployment in the area.
When The Rep visited the location, about 15km out of Komani towards East London, last week, dozens of locals were queuing outside the local post office to access the government’s Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350.
Lulama Wana said the grant brought little to no relief at all. “[The grant] only pays for electricity, mielie meal and meat so that we can at least eat.”
Wana, 59, and many other residents had been queuing since the early hours of the morning and were not sure they would get the money by the end of the day. “We want change in Ilinge so that our children are able to work. Our children finished school and did courses but never got work.
“We are poor, we do not have water and we do not have houses. We are hungry in Ilinge, I am hungry as I am talking to you,” she exclaimed.
According to Wana, not even food parcels reach ordinary, needy residents. “They are given to friends and relatives [of those in power].” She said recent jobs to dispense sanitiser at schools were given to family members.
Gezana echoed the sentiments. “There is no work in Ilinge, the jobs that are available are given to those connected to the leaders. They have their own people and they give each other work behind closed doors.”
Another resident, Lulamile Skade, of Zwide, said: “There is no work. People survive on the R350, if it was not for that money, we would have starved to death. It would be best if the new councillor would make things better – we want jobs, for the streets to be fixed and poverty to end.”
But Gezana said lack of water was the main problem in Ilinge. He said water was available once a week. “There is no water as we speak. We get water once a week and sometimes we go three months without water. There is also no one cleaning the area. There is rubbish all over the place.” Gezana did not have much hope in the next leaders’ capabilities.
A resident who asked not to be named agreed the major challenge was water. “People here are unemployed and their survival is planting at home, but without water, they have no way of making a living. There is nothing you can do without water.”
A 56-year-old resident of Jamestown said she was diagnosed with pneumonia because of water from a municipal water line flooding her yard. She had reported the problem but to no avail. “In Ilinge we live in sewage,” she lamented.
Bad roads, dirty streets, crime, and poor quality RDP houses were also some of the residents’ grievances.
“This [main] road has been fixed for so many years, I think millions of rand must have been spent on it. The street lights do not come on at night and that gives opportunity to criminals. Just last month a home for the elderly, situated opposite the local police station, was broken into and groceries stolen,” said Samuel Komanisi, 73.
However, Nomzamo Mnqayi, a resident of Ekuphumleni said she was happy after government moved her from a shack into an RDP house a few years ago.