Tsakane — The winds of change has moved across Tsakane Extension 10 informal settlement, near Brakpan, in the former East Rand area.
For years, residents have lived in a suffocating overcrowded environment and have been waiting for their area to be electrified.
A week ago when President Jacob Zuma was interacting with South Africans about service delivery at the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) radio, linked to various community radio stations across the country, lines were opened for listeners to ask questions.
One of the callers was Linda Mofokeng from Tsakane, who complained about poor service delivery such as lack of housing, electricity, water, safety and sanitation.
In the true spirit of reflecting a caring government, President Zuma asked acting Communications Minister Mosebenzi Zwane after the show, dubbed #Talk to the President, to visit the area, engage the people and seek solutions to their challenges.
On Wednesday, Minister Zwane was in the area listening to the day-to-day challenges faced by the disgruntled residents of Tsakane Extension 10.
At the meeting, the first person to speak was Mofokeng. "We've been living in this area without electricity for the past nine years and we've been pleading with both the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and the Gauteng provincial government to move or separate us from our yards.
"All we are asking from our government is electricity, RDP houses, safety, water and sanitation," she said, further alleging that for residents to get a new RDP house at Extension 22, they are forced to pay a bribe of R6000 to certain officials working at the municipality.
When Mofokeng further alleged that most RDP houses in Extension 22 are currently occupied by foreign nationals, the crowd started shouting "Bua... Bua" loosely translated as "talk about it or let it all out".
At the settlement, in one yard, there are more than two if not three families, who mostly share one toilet.
"We've been patiently waiting for all these services from our government, but our patience has run out. As residents of Tsakane, we need to fight discouragement in our community because in the next year, I am hopeful that there will be several waves of turnaround here," she said.
Mofokeng's speech was accompanied by a slogan: "One family, one house, one family, one stand, one family, one toilet," to a crowd of 500 residents.
After all representatives of the community had raised their service delivery challenges, Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Human Settlement at Ekurhuleni Metro, Cllr Lesiba Mpya, told residents that their living conditions are set to change for the better as from 2017.
"Your living conditions is indeed disheartening and as the current administration at your municipality, we are saying, we are going to improve your living conditions through ensuring we separate you from the yard system.
"I will come back here in January next year to start the transparent process of allocating houses of the second phase of Extension 22 housing project and the electrifying of your settlement will start by March next year.
"Guided by the laws of this country, we will be knocking at the doors of all those houses currently occupied by foreign nationals to get an understanding on how they manage to get those houses, I need to emphasise that we are not going to be violent during this process, we will just engage everyone peacefully," he said.
The MMC also announced that two families of elderly people has been moved to two houses in Extension 22 on Thursday.
Asked if he had achieved the objectives of his visit, Minister Zwane said: "Indeed, we've achieved what we came here for and we saw the importance of the #Talk to the President show. We saw how our people are still living, however, it is imperative for us as government to be always on the ground interacting with our people, feel their pain and give them hope and this is what happened today; Government talking to the people, sharing with them their problems and finding solutions and further agree on a way forward."
A visibly excited Minister Zwane also described his visit as an early Christmas for him and residents of Tsakane.
"Indeed this visit gave me and people of Tsakane an early Christmas. Residents are already looking forward for January 2017, because government has committed to come back and talk to them during that time. We are very humbled by this initiative by the President. Indeed, through our visit, we've manage to instil hope to our people," he said.