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‘We are the forgotten’

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The protesters closed off roads, preventing commuters from entering or exiting Roodepan, in an attempt to draw attention to their plight

BLOCKADED: A group of residents blockaded several sections of the road leading into Roodepan with burning tyres and rocks yesterday. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE AUTHORITIES yesterday condemned disruptive service delivery protests in Roodepan that saw several main roads barricaded with burning tyres and rocks

Community members from Jacksonville, in Roodepan, took to the streets to protest against “non-existent services” from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

Protesters blocked several roads into and around Roodepan with burning tyres and rocks. They are demanding that basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation be implemented in the informal neighbourhood.

“Jacksonville is a dark zone, with no electricity and street lights. Our people are getting hit by cars when they have to cross the road to use the bushes as toilets. We have no water and no electricity and no houses. We live in shacks like animals – we have become the forgotten part of Kimberley,” protesting residents said.

They added that life was a daily struggle, especially for the elderly who are severely affected by the lack of basic services.

The protesters yesterday closed off roads, preventing commuters from entering or exiting Roodepan, in an attempt to draw attention to their plight.

Several reports indicated that residents were prevented from going to work while pupils could not attend school.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie condemned the protests and closure of roads, saying that while residents had the right to raise issues it could not be done at the expense of other city residents.

“While we note the protests and the issues raised, we have to condemn the destruction of property and the holding to ransom of people who are not involved. A number of workers could not get to their places of work and that could have a negative impact on them. While our people have the right to protest, they do not have the right to hold others to ransom while doing so,” Matsie said.

He added that municipal representatives had visited Jacksonville, where disgruntled residents had highlighted some of their concerns.

“We did observe some problematic areas but it is important to note that the areas are all informal, non-serviced areas. That is why we are opposed to the illegal occupation of land, as this eventually leads to the expectation of services. However, before services can be implemented, extensive processes must be followed and the municipality is not currently in a position to provide these services to Jacksonville,” Matsie said.

Meanwhile, the Northern Cape Department of Education urged parents to “act responsibly” with regard to protests, after schooling was disrupted as a result.

“There hasn’t been any normal schooling in the area and the majority of schools reported an extremely low attendance for both pupils and teachers. Pupils at Homevale High School were initially prevented from accessing the school, but were ultimately allowed to enter the school premises. We urge parents to act responsibly and allow schools to continue as normal without any disruptions, as pupils are busy with their examinations,” said department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe.