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The following is an extract of a speech delivered by DA Mayoral Candidate for Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, while exposing human rights violations in Princess informal settlement in Johannesburg.
I am, once again, heartbroken by what I’ve seen in Princess. I have come to know this community, and care deeply for the people here.
Few places better highlight the fallacy behind Parks Tau’s claims of Joburg being a “world class city”, than the community of Princess who have been hardened by the stalled progress and the absolute disregard that the current administration has for them.
While Tau sits in his lofty office, coming up with catch phrases such as Joburg’s “new economic democracy”, the people in this community, and many other around Johannesburg, are being left to die an undignified death.
The City of Johannesburg has the primary responsibility of channelling resources to those in need. It is on this premise that I believe that Princess informal settlement informs the failure of incumbent Mayor, Parks Tau.
Tau has failed to ensure that the City rises to the ever increasing challenges of migration, urban inequality, joblessness, as well as the lack of service delivery to our communities.
Princess is one of 7 communities, including Zandspruit, Noordgesig, Alexandra, City and Suburban, Kwa-Mai Mai and Kliptown that I have visited and reported to the Human Rights Commission.
On behalf of these communities, the DA seeks remedial action for the City of Johannesburg’s contravention of human rights contained in the Constitution.
On my first visit to Princess, I came into contact with the Maziko family who suffered from both an extreme health crisis and a humanitarian emergency.
The family lives in a small two room shack without water or electricity supply. The oldest daughter contracted tuberculosis and suffers from two fits per day.
Because of her condition, the local school has not allowed her to attend classes and she has not been to school in more than 18 months. The son has asthma and the youngest daughter has been displaying similar symptoms to her older sister before she was diagnosed with TB.
The challenges facing this family are unfortunately not unique. Their experience is both a reflection and part of a far larger problem within our communities that have been neglected by the ANC administration in Johannesburg.
During our interactions with residents in the community, a number of people told us of family members, neighbours and friends who have either contracted respiratory diseases of some sort, or have died of tuberculosis.
This community and those of another informal settlement nearby, only have standpipes for water supply, VIP toilets that are never cleaned out or maintained by the city, and no refuse collection.
In fact, it is my firm belief that thousands of people are deliberately being neglected by Tau’s administration, and as a result, are victims of what can only be described as a humanitarian emergency.
Stats SA’s recently released Non-Financial Municipalities Census underlines the damning plight of Joburg’s provision of support to indigent households.
The DA-led City of Cape Town provides support to 100% of its indigent households across all four the service categories: water, electricity, sewerage & sanitation, solid waste management.
In contrast, the City of Johannesburg only provides 7.36% with water, 9.66% with sewerage and sanitation, and 23.62% with solid waste management.
A visit to the Princess Clinic this week exposed how Tau’s administration is failing to address the challenges that negatively impact the health of informal settlement populations in a developmental context.
Clinics in informal settlements are faced with a myriad of challenges. The Princess clinic itself, epitomises these challenges and is in desperate need of additional medical staff and an expansion of its facilities:
• There is no ambulance in the area. When one is needed it has to be dispatched from Johannesburg and it can take up to 4 hours to arrive. In reply to a parliamentary question submitted by the DA, the Minister of Health indicated that a mere 45% of Johannesburg’s ambulances are operating while 78 of Johannesburg’s 143 allocated ambulances are not operational; the highest number of all South Africa’s metros.
• The clinic is severely under resourced with 1 doctor who is only available on Wednesday’s, 3 permanent nurses and 4 other temporary or contracted nurses.
• In a period of 8 months the clinic has gone from seeing 1000 patients per month to over 2300 per month on average – this further highlights the health crisis this community is facing.
• The clinic is now serving many patients from neighbouring communities of Mhlangeni, Davidsonville, Witpoortjie, Leratong village, Lindhaven, Mendalore and a few people from Dobsonville due to either a lack of a clinic in their community or long queues and poor services at their local clinic.
The problems in Princess come down to failed political leadership under Parks Tau and a lack of capable governance.
I belong to an alternative party that has a track record of delivering upon the Constitution’s promises. Where the DA governs, we’ve already upgraded informal settlements through access to dignified sanitation, upgrading sewerage infrastructure, and through water and electricity provision.
The residents of Princess – like the Maziko family, are etched in my heart – and they should never have to suffer this indignity and deprivation of basic rights.
My promise to this community is that when we are elected on August 03, my administration and its resources will be focused on uplifting the poor.
We will have properly resourced and staffed clinics with trained nurses and adequately stocked medication.
I intend throwing away the keys to City run clinics and they will be open 24 hours a day to cater for the needs of Joburg’s residents.
I can promise that the DA will never allow the ordeal of the Maziko family to be tolerated.
Issued by Herman Mashaba