Deputy Public Protector Malunga urges Ethekwini municipality to prioritise needs of Kennedy road residents
Ethekwini municipality's massive R41billion budget to be released on Monday 18 April 21016, would mean nothing to an ordinary resident of Kennedy Road informal settlement if it does not address their massive service delivery challenges, Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kevin Malunga said on Friday.
The Deputy Public Protector implored the municipality to prioritise the basic needs of the thousands residents of the informal settlement to improve their quality of life.
Speaking during an inspection in loco at the settlement, Adv. Malunga said Kennedy road was a ticking time bomb that could explode in the municipality's face if it was not taken care of urgently.
Flanked by municipality officials and community representatives, who had sought intervention from his office and officials from the municipality, Adv. Malunga and his team negotiated their way around a filthy and litter-infested informal settlement speaking to the locals about their challenges.
The locals did not hold back their apparent frustration about lack of services in their area telling the Deputy Public Protector how difficult it was to live in the area. "It is tough to live here, we have nothing and no one cares about us," one of the residents said, speaking from a one roomed cardboard house, which they alleged cost the municipality R35 000 a unit.
A distraught young mother described how her son was electrocuted and died after he touched an exposed electrical wire. She pleaded with the municipality to save other children from the same fate.
The Deputy Public Protector Adv. Malunga and his team could not believe what they saw after being invited into one of the temporary structures. The cardboard house was riddled with cracks both inside and outside and its structural integrity was poor.
"There is no way this could be worth that much (i.e.R35 000). There is no structural integrity and this could collapse any time," Adv. Malunga said.
A couple of metres away, a number of contractors from the municipality, dressed in blue overalls were hard at work erecting one of the supporting structures that hold the ground on which the shacks are erected.
"They knew you were coming, that's why they are here, they only came today" shouted one of the residents. He said the issues of housing, electricity, roads and high level of youth unemployment needed urgent attention.
Adv. Malunga drew examples from his experience to warn the municipality that community needed to be listened to and their needs be urgently attended to especially when they are still willing to talk to the officials.
The experience nationally is that service delivery protests and destruction of property were the next step. Deputy Public Protector said the answer his office often got whenever they asked rioting community members why they were burning things, the answer they got too often was that, burning the much needed infrastructure was the only way to get the officials to listen.
He said the municipality should guard against not attending the informal settlement issues as it was clear not much had been done since their visit with Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela in December 2015.
Adv. Malunga highlighted the lack of progress to the municipality and a deadline of 5 May 2016 was agreed upon, where the municipality will account to the office on the progress made regarding water and sanitation, electricity among others.
He however commended the fact that Durban Solid Waste is now collecting refuse but said more could be done as the settlement was still filthy. Adv. Malunga said the meeting had also resolved to rope in the provincial and national departments of Human Settlements as some of the interventions fell within their competence.
The Deputy Public Protector condemned the expenditure spent by the city on what he described as wasteful and unproductive projects such as the alleged R1.7m expenditure on artist Nicki Minaj when people are living in such squalor.
He asked the municipality that as their budget is finalised, improving the lives of the poor should take centre stage.
“These poor people don’t benefit from Nicki Minaj no matter how the city may try to spin this,” the Deputy Public Protector said. “It is indefensible. How many local artists can that money sustain? They must avoid such perceived waste in future.
He said his office had been asked to probe the expenditure on the US artist.
Adv. Malunga’s visit was part of the office's intervention on security and service delivery issues at Glebelands and Kennedy Road.
For more information contact:
Ms Kgalalelo Masibi
Spokesperson: Public Protector South Africa
Public Protector South Africa
012 366 7066
079 507 0399