UPS: - VOICER - Four years ago a project was started to uplift Alexandra township in Johannesburg. The plan was to get rid of grime and poverty and to create a better life for all. So how far has the project got? Or is it a case of too many promises and too little action, as some in the community allege?
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE – If you comrades do not fight for your rights there is nothing we can do. There is money to develop Alexandra but they are doing nothing. We want the government to know that people are angry.
UPS: - VOICER - This is a meeting of Concerned Residents of Alexandra. They’re complaining about the rate of development in Alex. They say they’re seeing little of the billion rand project that was to change their lives. They fear they’re going to live in a dump forever.
PRE-TITLE: ALEXANDRA…THE SCRAP YARD?
UPS: - VOICER - Alexandra lies a few kilometres from Sandton, one of the richest areas in the country. But Alex is probably one of the poorest. In 2001, President Mbeki announced a seven-year presidential project to develop the squalid township, which is steeped in history. One point three billion rands was set aside for the Alexandra Renewal Project to build houses, create jobs and to provide electricity and sanitation to this overcrowded and crime crime ridden area. Ellen Chauke is an activist and resident of Alexandra. Each day she listens to people complaining about their standards of living and the lack of development and delivery.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE – We have a problem here in Alexandra. Many yards are packed with people. When I count there are nearly two hundred and five shacks in this area alone. People are suffering. If you look at the sanitation here it’s not good. Only one toilet is working and the other one is blocked. In general this is how we live in Alex. This yard is just an example.
UPS: - JAN MOGALE – Since the fight between Inkatha and ANC people erected shacks without permission.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – There is quite a number of backyard shacks we’ve already done the registration process we know how many backyard shacks do we have here and how many people are there. So what we will be doing now is to put up what we call communital rental facilities in those backyard shacks. So …… to deal with the shacks that are actually there.
UPS: - VOICER - This may control the spread of shacks, but what of the squalor? The stench of sewage is ever present, and isn’t likely to go away with more and more people moving in.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE - This room is full of water. It’s because people built on top of the sewage system because there is no space to build. There is always water whether there’s rain or not because that’s where water flows. They’re suffering. When you enter the house you walk on bricks and that’s not healthy. And is also smell here.
UPS: - VOICER - disease is a ever present threat and there is litter as far as the eye can see. Garbage collection in this maze is a pipe dream open drains and dumps have become childrens playgrounds. Living in this mess is Anna Mlangeni, an unemployed single mother, who worries about her health and that of her family in these unhygienic conditions. And because conditions are so bad, residents don’t feel inclined to start paying for services. The Apartheid culture of non-payment persists.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE - The sewers are open and people just walk next to them. When it rains there are floods as you can see here. This is the life we live in Alexandra. It is very common.
UPS: - ANNA MLANGENI - I have lived for sixteen years in front of this open sewer. It smells all the time and we don’t have toilets. No water or electricity. I have TB now because of these conditions. I went to the clinic. My children and I are receiving treatment because of these smelly conditions.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE – when we report this to the municipality nothing gets sorted out. They say they are tired of problems in Alexandra. So we do not know what ARP is saying about the poor living conditions of the people. All her children are being treated for TB. There is nothing she can do because she does not have money to move to another place.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – Once you do not pay for services government is unable to maintain services government is unable to help your neighbour because now government must always keep money form their budget but there is nothing coming to its own budget. So the plea that we are making to people is that once you’ve benefited whether from an RDP house whether form any government project please make sure that you pay for your services so that government is able to therefore use that money to pay and build for somebody else.
AD BREAK 1
UPS: - VOICER - Mabore Mamabolo has been living in Stjwetla for the past 11 years. It’s an illegal settlement on the west side of Alex on the banks of the Jukskei River. There are about seven thousand shacks in Stjwetla officials say it’s difficult to keep track of them and to know how many people actually live here. She longs a home with running water and more than one room.
UPS: - MABORE MAMABOLO - The one room that I stay in is too small for me and my kids. There are too many of us. We do not have sleeping space. Parents shouldn’t sleep in the same room as their kids. That is not right.
UPS: - VOICER - Mabore came to Alexandra from the North West province, hoping to find work. Like many in this informal settlement – she says she’s not willing to go back home. Life there is even more difficult, she says.
UPS: - MABORE MAMABOLO – Stjwetla is very dirty. They dumped us here. We stay in a mess. We do not have toilets or a nearby clinic or schools. We do not even have water and electricity. We are just staying here as we have nowhere else to go.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – The issue of dealing with infrastructure dealing with water and sanitation and so forth those are issues that on a daily basis have to be managed dealt with by the city and the city already has plans. All the utilities of the city the city parks is here the Johannesburg water the city power is here w connected everybody in terms of electricity but now the issue is to say if you want to help government if you want to make sure that government moves forward also help us meet us half way as the resident of Alex.
UPS: - VOICER – Government needs help in stopping the tide of people pouring although eight thousand families were relocated from here two years ago you will never know stopping the influx is the challenge. Another challenge is to completely eradicate the bucket system and if services were paid for this could be achieved. Government says residents have to take some responsibility.
UPS: - MABORE MAMABOLO – life here is not safe. We live in fear all the time. Because I do not have money I cannot go anywhere. I will just stay here until I am given a better place. I’m just waiting for that day.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – Some people within Alexandra already have benefited within the housing projects but the issue is that how then we deal with people that already now are finding themselves inhuman conditions they have not yet benefited. We are saying we know about hose people we are very much concerned about their living standards we want to address that they must work with us. They must assist us.
UPS: - VOICER - North of Alex lies Marlboro, home to factories and warehouses and of course people who’ve taken over almost forty buildings illegal.
UPS: - APRIL LEKALAKALA – When we came here the factory was being rented out. They were even partitions inside.
UPS: - VOICER - April Lekala-kala has lived here for more than ten years. He said he moved in at the invitation of civic organisation and individuals who made money out of illegally renting out the premises. Like most people he is here because he cannot find anything else. He used to stay with family in their backyard in Alex, but had to find a place of his own when he got married and had children. Residents call this the Mini Sandton mall because it has double storey shacks. There are three hundred and fifty structures in this building alone. It is a disaster waiting to happen. Wooden structures only one exit and no electricity if a candle or a paraffin lamp was knocked over these structures would go up in flames.
UPS: - NOXOLO MATROS - There are too many shacks in this space alone. And in on shack you will find five to seven people with just enough space to put your head down.
UPS: - VOICER - Noxolo Matros is single and came here from the Eastern Cape to look for work. No one pays rent here, so there is no control and people move in and out as they please.
UPS: - NOXOLO MATROS – I do not have a toilet and water. Our neighours are not willing to help. We use buckets to relieve ourselves. We dump the waste in the morning.
UPS: - VOICER - There are major developments planned here. The Gautrain is expected to pass through this area.
UPS: - APRIL LEKALAKALA – We agree that this is and industrial area. But we also do not understand how they turned this place into a residential area. But because we are stranded and Alexandra is overcrowded we find ourselves living in factories. We understand we should not be here. We do not want to be here. It is just that we do not have anywhere else to go. But residents are refusing to move unless they are given a viable alternative.
UPS: - NOXOLO MATROS – Everyone has been making promises for a long time. But until now no one has done anything to help us. All they say is they want these factories back. They want to build railway lines. We agree that they can build a railway line here. But where will they move us? They cannot just dup us.
UPS: - APRIL LEKALAKALA – we are not stopping development. We just want to know. If they plan to develop Malboro where will they put the residents of Malboro?
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – Malboro we’ve been to those areas we’ve seen how people are living. We are the first to say we cannot have people living in this type of conditions therefore let’s make sure that w remove them and find alternative area for them where they can actually be settled. The city of Johannesburg is currently looking for an alternative land where this people can actually be housed not permanently, but temporarily up until we get permanent accommodation for them because it is a tragic on its own. Anything can happen in Malboro a number of people lives can actually be affected
UPS: - NOXOLO MATROS – No one likes to stay in a place like this because it is a life and death situation.
UPS: - VOICER - This is a gathering of unemployed people of Alexandra. With 60 per cent of residents out of work, jobs are precious.
These residents are furious because they thought a renewal project in their area would mean an opportunity to work. They even took part in special training projects in anticipation. But now contractors from outside have come in with their own labour.
UPS: - PETER MONAISE; SELOF: CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER - Our people have skills. We realised that we should train our people for the renewal project. We see the projects starting and unemployed Alexandrians. We’ve got approximately about one thousand five hundred unemployed youth and whatsoever. But we see people who are not from here working.
AD BREAK 2
UPS: - VOICER - This is the transit village in Alexandra – many call it the waiting room. Five hundred units were built here four years ago the aim was for shack dwellers to move in while waiting for their RDP homes to be built. But after three years they are still waiting because instead of houses, rental flats were built which they can’t afford. When they complained, they were told to move to another development in Soweto. Alice Ndlovu is one of those who refused to move.
UPS: - ALICE NDLOVU – I’ve been staying here for three years waiting for my house. I do not see any progress. You cannot extend because it is not your house. It is a waiting room. It is not nice to stay here because the houses are small. Ten families share one toilet and one bathroom.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – the transit camp is a waiting area it was designed solely for that. But the challenge is been to say that once we moved in people to the transit village once you moved them out of transit village they must move to their permanent homes. You cannot move them to another transit place again because you cannot actually keep on transiting, transiting, transiting therefore the challenge was to say whilst we are busy developing some of these housing projects let people remain in the transit village. Then once we completed these housing projects then we will move people form the transit village move them to their houses then take others especially the backyard shacks move them to the trans village whilst they are still waiting for their houses to be build and so forth. What people need to understand is that you cannot build a house in one day that is the unfortunate part.
UPS: - ALICE NDLOVU – we were excited when they said we must move here and then we would go back t our new houses. But now they have built flats where we use to stay. And people form outside are staying there and we do not have a place anymore. After that they suggested that we move to Braamficherville. We do not like it there because it is not our place. It belongs to people form Soweto. It’s also far form where we work. But they promised to build new houses for us in Section eight. We are still waiting.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – People want to remain within Alex. And the challenge therefore is to find alternative land for them within Alex. And unfortunately that land is not available. There is various pockets of land hence therefore now we are quite happy we can go and purchase land whether it is market related in terms of money we can go out and purchase and make sure that we build within Alex so that these people are working within Alex or in the surrounding areas if children are going to schools within Alex those families must not be disrupted hence we said let us find place for people within Alex so they can actually live within Alex.
UPS: - VOICER - But residents are beginning to despair. In cramped conditions like these, crime, drug abuse, domestic violence and alcoholism are on the rise. Each day new shacks go up as people pour in, attracted to Alex’s proximity to the richer suburbs of Johannesburg and the promise of work opportunities. Residents who’ve been waiting for the place in the sun, simply don’t believe that government will deliver in the time that’s left in the life of the Alexandra Renewal Project.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE – If we count now we are left with two and half years out of the seven that ARP was given to fix this area. I do not see them finishing the project in the two years that are left
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – this was a special presidential project. It had to go on for the period of seven years and then after that seven the project is now been phase approach has been handed to the city of Johannesburg to actually manage. Because it is going to become a day to day issue that has to be managed by the city. In the two and a half years that is left you can see all our project are high impact profile infrastructure project.
UPS: - VOICER - Government says it is making progress. Because not all the projects are visible ones electricity water and sewage been upgraded in some areas. They’ve built 1200 houses, clinics and sports facilities have been upgraded and some residents in high risk areas along the Juksei have been moved. A police station has been built and hostels have been renovated and converted into family units.
UPS: - ELLEN CHAUKE – We’ve got dumped here. As you can see behind us the place looks like a scrap yard. The view is not pleasant. It shows that we do need a better life. Alexandra is the only place that does not have that.
UPS: - MONGEZI MNYANI; DEPT OF HOUSING: GAUTENG – We will reach the objectives. And the issue that we’ve been saying is that there are challenges along. We might have wanted to achieve a lot but going to the ground and implementing some of the projects we find out that some of the projects won’t be implement able due to a number of reason. I think also look at Alexandra today and Alexandra in 1998 there is a huge change in terms of the lives in terms of what has been done to date but also there is a political will to actually change Alex for the better.