Public Protector lends distressed Eastern Cape communities an ear

Hundreds of desperate community members braved the cold weather conditions in Cala, Eastern Cape on Wednesday for an opportunity to bring their service delivery grievances to Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela’s attention.
The Public Protector is in the province until Thursday as part of her nationwide Stakeholder Consultative Dialogue, which kicked-off in Pretoria last week.
The dialogue highlights the need to work together to end maladministration and ensure responsive service delivery, with special focus on problems plaguing the RDP housing programme and regulatory gaps regarding alleged illegal conversion of panel vans into taxis.
Problems surrounding RDP housing and regulatory gaps in the conversion of panel vans into taxis are the subject of two systemic investigations currently being conducted by the Public Protector. The Dialogue, therefore, makes use of public hearings to gather information for purposes of these investigations.
During the meeting at Cala Indoor Sports Centre, concerned residents complaining about RDP houses, spoke of leaking roofs, long waiting periods for occupation of houses despite early approval and illegal sale of houses.
They also complained about collapsing houses, houses that are not disability-friendly, houses allocated without any waterborne sewage system, small houses, illegal occupation of houses and contractors that rendered poor workmanship, wasting government funds due to the fixing poorly built houses.
One local, Mr B Ndyaluvane, told the Public Protector that taxi owners were opting for cheaper converted panel vans over purposefully built passenger transport minibuses due to the fact that the latter were expensive.
“Government said we should give up our cars as part of the recapitalisation programme and we did, only to find that one needs R60 000 deposit to buy the vehicle that the authorities recommended that we acquire,” Mr Ndyaluvane said.
Decrying the fact that minibus taxis, unlike buses, are not subsidised by government, Mr Ndyaluvane said taxi owners have to fork out a further R10 000 monthly in instalment payments for the recommended vehicles.
Other service delivery complaints included inadequate learner transport, poor school infrastructure, crime, deteriorating road infrastructure, water pipes that have run dry, “corrupt” construction companies executing government contracts, bakkies that are used for passenger transport, land issues and the non-responsiveness of government.
Further problems experienced by locals included lack of pre-school facilities, lack of police responsiveness, lack of medicine in clinics, inadequate social workers, lack of youth development, lack of bridges to school for teachers and learners, resulting in no school days and farming challenges, with fields lying fallow and lack of stock farming facilities.
Organs of state affected include Departments of Local Government, Human Settlements, Public Works, Police, Health, Transport, Agriculture, and the SA Social Security Agency.
Responding to the complaints, the Public Protector promised residents that problems relating to RDP and illegally converted taxis would be addressed by her investigation into the matters.
She said the probes would look beyond just satisfying the individual complaints, fixing the underlying systemic problems with a view to ensure that the problems identified do not recur.
“My team and I will analyse the complaints to identify matters for each spere of government. I will request urgent action on urgent matters such as the school infrastructure and medical supplies.
“Individual complaints will be dealt with immediately and the systemic issues will be part of my reports at the end of the two systemic investigations,” the Public Protector pledged.
On Thursday, the Public Protector will wrap up her visit to the province with a meeting with provincial executives, government officials, political parties, civil society and experts in the areas under the spotlight at Good News Conference Centre in Bhisho at 09:30.
For more information, contact:
Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa
079 507 0399
012 366 7006
0800 11 20 40
Published Date: 
Wednesday, July 18, 2012