MALUNGELO BOOI: Service delivery - a stone's throw away
So many Capetonians are desperate for services, but is anyone listening?
A 20-year-old man from Botriver in the Overberg stands in the street, armed with rocks. A few minutes later he joins other residents as they start pelting the local municipal building with their stone missiles, in what is the latest service delivery protest in South Africa.
Botriver is just one of several demonstrations that I have reported on over the past few weeks. I have also been dispatched to Hermanus, Delft, Phillipi, Uitsig near Elsies River and Worcester in the Boland.
The Western Cape isn’t the only scene of service delivery protests though – there have been similar scenes in other parts of the country. Recent statistics, however, show that the Western Cape has overtaken Gauteng in terms of the number of service delivery protests this year.
At almost every demonstration, residents claimed to be tired of government’s failure to prioritise their needs. They were also very unhappy about the lack of communication about plans in the pipeline.
Back in Botriver, just before police moved in to fire teargas and disperse the protestors, I asked a 20-year-old man why he was part of the protest and the destruction. He told me the lack of development in his impoverished, rural community means that his job prospects are virtually non-existent.
He spoke with such passion, which was clearly fuelled by frustration and desperation.
For a moment, I hoped those in power could see what was before my eyes; a young man who was supposed to be pursuing his dream, instead battling to survive.
He is one of the many millions of people who are being let down by the ineptitude and lack of urgency from those in authority, who are dealing with matters affecting the poor.
My former boss, The Times’ Editor Phylicia Opperlt, said this to me during our brief Twitter chat when I highlighted my frustration with the current situation: “You should have more faith than I do. You are young and talented and the world lies before you. Don't get dispirited”.
I had commented on her radio interview on Cape Talk about a UN report which documents the conditions in which many South African children are forced to live.
The report reveals that poor children in this country are 17 times more likely to experience hunger and three times less likely to complete school than children from wealthier backgrounds.
With statistics like these, how can one not be dispirited?
Yes, I do not have to worry about where my next meal will come from, but the desperation of my fellow countrymen is just too much to bear.
Malungelo Booi is an Eyewitness News Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Malungelob