South Africa: Uitenhage Residents Want Their Pothole Left Alone

18 February 2020

Land occupiers use water from the pothole for bathing and boil it for cooking

Residents of Christine Village in Uitenhage say they don't want a large pothole on the corner of John Dissel Drive and busy Kamesh Road fixed.

Motorists drive past it carefully, not only because of the hole, but because the pothole is used by local residents to wash their children and their dishes.

The seven-shack settlement, home to 35 people, sprung up a year ago. The settlement is beside Kamesh Road, which is the main road leading to KwaLanga, Greenfields, Rosedale, and Lapland.

The settlement has no standpipe, no toilets, and no electricity.

"I have been renting RDP houses out of my old age grant for R700, R800 and R1,000 a month," said Sylvia Fourie, who moved in the settlement in February last year. "I could not afford to buy food anymore ... I decided to invade this land because I never had a house of my own."

For toilets, residents use the bush near Tembani Stadium or use buckets and empty them in storm water drains across the road.

Residents fear being mugged or raped when relieving themselves in the bush, an area where gangs such as the Party Boys and Bad Boys hang out.

Fourie said there was a tap on the open land they had occupied but the municipality closed its valve with "huge pliers" days after the occupation. Water however leaks into the large pothole on the corner of Dissel and Kamehs. Residents also boil the water and cook with it.

Community leader Hugh-Reece Williams said, "Our Councillor Tyron Adams drives past us [at the pothole] every day en route to his office without even greeting us. We, however, voted him in."

"Each shack has an erf or a plot number. We cannot be called illegal invaders, because we occupied spaces in residential areas. We must just be referred to as new neighbours," said Williams.

He said there were about seven occupied parcels of land in ward 48 which are within less than a square kilometre. Some of them included Afghanistan, Kabah, Heron and the oldest of them is McCarthy, which is at the back of McCarthy Combined School and has over 400 shacks.

Peter Davids lives at Doring Hoek informal settlement which has 12 shacks and 40 people of whom 36 are female. The father of three said, "To cook and bath we have to make fire out of planks and we feel that had there been electricity in our settlement, life would have been better."

Councillor Adams (DA) did not respond to our questions.

Mayoral spokesperson George Geleba said residents of Christine Village should invest in tubs to do their chores as it is an offence to cause damage or tamper with the road surface.

"The City continues with proactive maintenance approach to potholes in all areas of the Metro as they pose danger and a potential source of harm to vehicles or pedestrians," said Geleba.

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