The hype around the ANC manifesto launch on the Sat 11th January had hardly died down when a mere two days later three protestors lay dead in the streets of Mothotlung
Mike Tshele and Osia Rahube were shot by the police while Lerato Seema was, it is alleged by residents, assaulted and pushed from a moving Nyala. Enoch Seimela died on the 19th January of wounds the police had inflicted on the 13th. The ANC Manifesto promised to fight corruption and crime, ‘to restrict public servants from doing business’ but again the echo of Marikana is being felt around the country.
Mothotlung is in the Madibeng municipality, which is home to the third biggest ferrochrome deposits in the world and the biggest platinum deposits. There is also the famous Hartebeespoort dam. Water is aplenty and the mines have never experienced water shortages or cut-offs, not so for the working class areas.
Residents of Mothotlung report that water shortages have been coming on a long time. In 2012 there were similar, long cut-offs and protests. Residents were injured then, too. The IPID promised then to look in to the police brutality, but have since then taken no action against the police. Rather upsurprisingly, residents do not trust the police nor the IPID nor the Minister of Police, when they say that they will look into the deaths of the 4 residents.
This time, water cut-offs have been ongoing since about August last year. When the latest round of cut-offs occurred on the 10th January, residents resolved to march to the municipal office on the 13th. The first thing they noticed was that the police were not from the area and they were insistent that no protestor should reach the municipal office.
Residents had long ago discovered that one of the ANC councillors was linked to the company that provides water in a tank, each time the water is cut off. Apparently the company receives R25 000 per tank delivered. A committee was formed to take the matter up. Mike Tshele was one of those who went to the water pumps and they apparently found that the pumps had been tampered with. Now Mike Tshele and Osia Rahube, who had been raising questions about this corruption, are dead and 6 others of the leadership are in hiding; the community report that the ANC has drafted a hitlist and the remaining leadership are under threat of being eliminated.
Despite claims by Minister Molewa that all the water has been restored, residents still report, as on the 19th, that some areas are still without a drop.
In 2011/12 water rates increased by 14% and in 2012/3 by 20% (even higher than the electricity increases at municipal level); the projected increases for the next 3 years is 18% annually. For the 2013/4 budget R58.6 million was allocated for water. What happened to this money? The municipality has been installing water meters. The ANC-linked BEE company Wiphold, has shares in the company that manufactures the water and electricity meters. The ANC has turned water into a commodity
After the funerals of the 3 this weekend, the situation is still tense. Residents do not trust the parties who come for their votes, not even the EFF and their sacrificial cows. Residents face charges while the police who assaulted and killed their comrades, walk free, ready and able to act again and again.
Some activists in the area have appealed for Numsa to come to their assistance.
UPDATE ON 23RD JANUARY 2014
While residents were without water and now without electricity, the mayor has an uninterrupted supply. Residents continue to be billed even for the long periods when they do not have water or electricity.
In Oukasie phase 2 the electricity has been off for the past 4 days; residents have lost perishable goods and still the water supply is intermittent. Children go to school dirty. The housing shortage is as severe as many other areas- RDP houses have tin shacks in their backyards of their tiny stands. There are no toilets.
Residents are demanding reconnection of electricity and water, proper toilets and decent housing. On an international scale 85 capitalists earn the same as 3.5 trillion people. In Madibeng the constrast is similar- Anglo American plunders the wealth while the masses live in destitution.
Another uprising is brewing.
* Shaheed Mahomed, Workers International Vanguard Party (formerly Workers International Vanguard League)