Van Stadensrus, a sleepy town located about 30 km south of Wepener, is faced with a number of service delivery related issues compounding the poverty and unemployment plaguing the small community. Many of its inhabitants do not have proper housing, while some live with malfunctioning sewerage systems on a daily basis.
Ben Mokoroane, a father of three, has had to find alternative accommodation for over a decade after waiting for his Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) house, only for construction to be stalled a number of times. “My bricks arrived last year but they were taken back to build the house next door. This is despite the fact that the next door house was on the list after mine. In March I received new bricks but they were shortly taken away to build the foundation of yet another house,” said Mokoroane.
Mokoroane claimed that the bricks were sold for R2 500 by the Community Liaison Officer (CLO) who overlooks the RDP projects in the area. Bloemfontein Courant spoke to the CLO, a local man who did not want to be named. He did not deny that bricks were sold off but expressed that the construction of Mokoroane’s house is set for April. “When a house has not been completed, we use others’ bricks to finish it off. When we get new bricks, they would then be returned to the older house,” he said.
He added that after delayed salary payments he sold about a pellet and a half of Mokoroane’s bricks so that he could buy food. The man supports a family of four. He is a middle man between residents and building contractors after losing his job as a security guard.
Van Stadensrus falls under Mangaung Metro Municipality and along with Wepener and Dewetsdorp makes up Ward 50. However, this small town with an estimated population of almost 2000 people seems to be a forgotten part of much bigger region. Entering the township of Thapelong, sewage can be seen flowing down the main street. If you walk up its curving roads you will discover that the source of the stream is a small yard where a woman lives with two pets.
Masechaba Mosebo, a day-care worker, expressed that her mother had no access to electricity on her piece of land. “My mother received the space in 2015. We really need electricity to be reconnected,” explained Mosebo on behalf of her 76-year-old mother.
According to EFF’s Beleme Thomas, people of Van Stadensrus have been trying to bring attention to their concerns in a peaceful way. “These are things that have been discussed with the ward councillor in a meeting last year. She promised that they would find solutions and even said that a new RDP contractor would be appointed,” said Thomas. He claimed that many residents are charged for services that they do not have access to.
Bloemfontein Courant raised the concerns of residents to Ward Councillor Olga Sewisa last Thursday. “We are having a community meeting today on these exact complaints. We will discuss with contractors the reasons for some houses getting built while others are not. As far as bricks are concerned, I was told that the CLO was told to take away broken bricks that were unusable. He will also be at the meeting,” said Sewisa. She added that issues of sewage were also being addressed.– Nomaqhawe Mtebele