South Africa: Services Delayed, Inaccessible After Wave of Protests in Motherwell

16 September 2019

"This has definitely affected development in the ward" says councillor

The recent wave of disruptive protests by residents of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality is taking its toll on service delivery in several communities.

Residents say they have nowhere to lodge complaints or make enquires after the offices of six ward councillors in Motherwell were stoned and torched in recent weeks. Four of the offices have since been reopened but two - ward 53 and ward 60 - remain closed.

Ikamvelihle resident (ward 53), Nyameka Mtonzi, said she had no choice but to use her sister's home address as proof of residence to apply for a loan at a local bank. (This is because she has to get proof of her address from the councillor's office.) "Our [ward councillor's] office remains closed after it was stoned by residents who wanted electricity and toilets in their informal settlement but their action is now affecting all of us."

Ward 53 councillor Nomazulu Mthi did not respond to questions from Groundup last week.

Ward 60 councillor Mvuzo Mbelekane said his office has been closed for three weeks after it was attacked by angry residents. His home and car were also targeted.

"Some residents accused me of selling RDP houses while the rightful beneficiaries are homeless," he said. Mbelekane denied the allegation and said that no new homes were built in Wells Estate since he took up the post in 2016. "I request people accusing me of doing so to report me to the police, the [municipality] and the political head of human settlements," he said.

Mbelekane said some projects in the area were on hold after protesters chased workers out of the community. "This has affected residents of Bluewater Bay Extension who have to walk a long distance to catch a bus or a taxi. The contractors are now being paid while doing nothing," he said.

Ward 23 councillor, Sandile Nzanzeka, now works from a container after his office was burned on 25 February. "This has definitely affected development in the ward. We held meetings with the disgruntled residents and took their grievances to the relevant authorities." He urged all residents to attend ward meetings.

Ward 57 councillor, Becinga Mbuqu, opened his office last Monday after it had been closed for more than a month. Mbuqu said protesters from one of the informal settlements were demanding to be relocated after false information was circulated. "They poured buckets of faeces at the front entrance so I had to wait for the municipality to clear it," he said.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Mayor Mongameli Bobani's spokesperson, George Geleba, said they were working to have the damaged councillor's offices repaired and reopened. "Our political leadership and the mayor has held numerous engagements with Motherwell residents about their grievances. We are trying to find solutions to put a stop to the protests," he said.

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