The long walk to dignity

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Children from the community of Caleb Motshabi have to walk through a veld and stream filled with sewage on a daily basis. To put emphasis on their plight, DA premier candidate, Patricia Kopane, and member of parliament, Phumzile van Damme, joined them on an early morning walk to school yesterday.

The DA in the Free State heard heart-rending stories of neglect and incompetence from the community during the party’s visit to various failing government projects around Mangaung on Monday, including the yet-to-be-completed Dark/Silver City flats in Batho and a controversial emergency medical service provider.

DA premier candidate, Patricia Kopane, and member of parliament, Phumzile van Damme, started their tour by joining children from the community of Caleb Motshabi on an early morning walk to school.

“I have today seen a school that has not been completed. We walked with learners for six kilometres where they had to walk through a veld and stream filled with sewage. They said that they were very afraid to walk past the bushy areas, especially when coming back from school,” Van Damme added.

Van Damme explained that the purpose of the tour was to emphasise the negative effects of corruption on the everyday South African. She is part of the party’s ‘Team One South Africa’ initiative to stem out corruption. “Corruption is rife in South Africa. What I want to do, is speak to the victims of corruption because it is not a victimless crime. People perceive it as something that happens in isolation, but it is a crime against humanity,” said Van Damme.

Patricia Kopane and Phumzile van Damme with victims of Buthelezi. From the left are: Alice Monokoane, Van Damme, Kopane and Vivian de Bruin.

The walk was followed by a visit to the derelict Dark/Silver City flats that were intended for low-income housing. “It is clear that corruption steals from the poor. It always causes our poor to be the ones who end up suffering,” Kopane added.

During their visit to the offices of the emergency medical service provider, they were joined by community members who claimed to be victims of the ambulance service. One mother, Vivian de Bruin, stated that she had lost her eight-month-old toddler after waiting for the ambulance service for an extended period of time. “My child was healthy but he just slept and never woke up again. I called the ambulance for assistance and they took long. They took about an hour if not more to get to my house,” said De Bruin.

She complained of instances when patients have been asked to wait elsewhere other than their homes in order for the ambulance to reach them. “Sometimes you call them at night and they will tell you to wait at a crèche or somewhere else because they have difficulty locating where you are,” De Bruin continued. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele
nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za