In the picture (from left to right) Mr Moses Thovhakale (SKCC's spokesperson), Mr Mathakha Mabatha (SKCC's deputy treasurer), Ms Tiny Sinthumule (SKCC's secretary general) and Mbavhalelo Ramulumo (SKCC's treasurer). Picture: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho.
The ongoing carnage on the roads in the Sinthumule and Kutama areas have sparked renewed anger among community members residing in that area. In the latest incident, which happened on Tuesday (20th), a girl was injured and had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Residents believe that the bad state of the roads is the major contributing factor leading to deaths and injuries.
Last Thursday, a group calling themselves the Sinthumule-Kutama Crisis Committee (SKCC) staged a march from Madombidzha to Makhado Municipality’s offices in Louis Trichardt. The group of protestors handed over a memorandum in which their grievances are explained. The issues raised by the SKCC include the lack of maintenance of infrastructure and the unequal “sharing” of job opportunities.
According to the spokesperson for the SKCC, Mr Moses Thovhakale, all the villages in the areas have decided to unite and form a non-profit organisation to fight the system that hinders development. This NPO will endeavour to ensure that services are delivered in the areas and on time.
“We are now 1000% sure that we were misled during the (earlier) march that took place at Louis Trichardt, which occurred under a one-day shutdown,” said Thovhakale. “The assuring proof is the current manner in which the Department of Public Works, Road and Infrastructure and the contractor are working on the road. The manner is not acceptable and not in line with the grievances of the people written in the memorandum that was submitted during the shutdown.”
Thovhakale said that those in charge of the road must know that their incompetence is continuously causing the deaths of people. “Road D959, which extends to road D3715, needs total rehabilitation,” said SKCC’s chairperson, Ungani Tseisi. “We are surprised to see the contractor and the department patching potholes. We have engaged a lot with the people in charge of the road project, who played a game of running in circles with us.”
He added that Makhado Municipality’s mayor, Cllr Samuel Munyai, had also been engaged to help the residents resolve the predicament. “The deadline of his feedback has passed by months,” Tseisi said. “We feel that Sinthumule and Kutama are not being taken seriously like other communities and our rights with respect to public participation in governance are being infringed.”
During last Thursday’s march, the SKCC handed over a memorandum signed by about 100 residents. According to Tseisi, some of their members could not attend the march because of work commitments. The mayor met the group outside the municipal offices and accepted their memo. He commended them on the peaceful march and said that the municipality was riddled with service delivery “challenges”, mostly because of limited resources.
Munyai explained that the municipality had 38 wards with about 265 villages. He asked the group to be patient and promised to investigate the demands and respond.
Meanwhile, Tseisi said that the people had convened and decided to do the #TAG1000SIGNATURES campaign, which meant that they would write and submit a petition containing more than 1000 signatures from the people of the Sinthumule and Kutama areas.
“The campaign has already started, and many people have signed the petition,” Tseisi said. “We believe that only the petition will make them take us seriously, since the shutdown and memorandum have failed to deliver the required actionable response.”
He added that they had planned to get the office of the Public Protector to intervene in the matter. “We shall provide the office with a copy of the petition and all the information we have gathered,” he said. “We still feel that the men who have been volunteering to patch the road from late 2019 – and they are still doing so even now – should have been the first persons to be employed on this road rehabilitation project, as they were promised before the one-day shutdown march and the construction could start. How were all those other people employed on the project? Who was consulted? This leaves much to be desired.”
Tseisi said that they were very concerned that the project was going at a snail’s pace, and this was another cause of accidents.
Date:23 April 2021 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.