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50 at 25: 'What difference will voting make?'

Jenny Govender has spent the first 25 years of her life living under the apartheid regime, and the other 25 years enjoying freedom. She gives us her thoughts on the state of the country ahead of the elections.

Jenny Govender has spent the first 25 years of her life under an apartheid regime, and the other 25 years enjoying freedom. She gives us her thoughts on the state of the country ahead of the elections. Picture: EWN

Twenty-five years of democracy is a milestone that South Africans are grappling to understand. Do we commerate or is there still too much to fix before we celebrate? We spoke to 50-year-old South Africans who have lived half their lives in apartheid and the other half in democracy for some perspective.

The first in our series of 50 at 25 is Jenny Govender, who currently lives in Cape Town.

Govender, who's lived half her life during apartheid and the other half in a democracy, says that some people in South Africa are still being oppressed today.

Eyewitness News is featuring South Africans who turn 50-years-old this week ahead of the general elections to hear their thoughts on the state of the country.

Fifty-year-old Govender spent the first 25 years of her life under an apartheid regime, and the other 25 years enjoying freedom.

Govender, who grew up on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal before moving to Johannesburg, and eventually settling in Cape Town, said that she lived a sheltered life and only really felt the effects of apartheid when going into the Durban city centre.

"I remember my mom and I would go walking in the streets, and I remember the benches that used to say 'Whites only...'"

She said that she was excited when democracy was finally realised but with problems like high crime levels and poor infrastructure in some areas, Govender now feels that the country is under a different kind of oppression.

"Our kids cannot play in the park. I was little and we used to run into the fields for hours in a day and nobody bothered to look for us. That was freedom. We are not in a country that enjoys freedom."

Govender said that her feelings about the elections have changed since the dawn of democracy and that she is unsure whether she’ll go and vote this year.

She admits that her sheltered childhood growing up on a farm was different to that of many black South Africans who felt the brunt of apartheid every day.

But she still feels that with issues like an ailing rail service, corruption, and rampant crime, the situation hasn't vastly improved for some people.

"Democracy was supposed to bring equality into play, but instead democracy seems to have brought more chaos, at levels at which we are struggling to deal with."

Govender, who was excited to vote for the first time in 1994, said that her feelings have changed over the years.

"I was sitting and thinking the other day, 'Should I go to the polls? What difference is it going to make?' Because tomorrow, whoever is elected will still do as they have been for the last 25 years."

Whether she decides to vote or not, Govender said that she's lost hope in the leaders of the country.

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