Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda paid a visit to Diepkloof Hostel on Wednesday in response to recent violent protests concerning service delivery in the area.
Accompanied by MMCs (Members of Mayoral Committee) and city officials, the mayor embarked on a walkabout with residents who wanted him to witness the living conditions firsthand.
Gwamanda expressed his dismay at what he witnessed, describing the dilapidated structures as distressing.
He emphasized that these structures would be unable to withstand natural disasters like floods and the recent earthquake, posing a significant danger to the residents.
Acknowledging the growing occurrence of disasters in South Africa, particularly in Johannesburg, the mayor highlighted the absence of even basic services to which communities are entitled.
The residents voiced their grievances regarding inadequate sanitation, overcrowding, and a lack of water and electricity.
Community leader Sibongiseni Khoza welcomed the city’s interventions but expressed the residents’ dissatisfaction with the provision of mobile toilets. Instead, they requested proper housing.
Earlier this month, the council approved the city’s budget of R80 billion, allocating funds for the refurbishment of hostels.
However, the mayor stated that some of the residents’ demands fell beyond the scope of the local government’s jurisdiction.
He assured the community that he would engage with Premier Panyaza Lesufi to address these concerns.
The mayor acknowledged that discussions about the housing backlog and refurbishment of the structures themselves should take place at the inter-governmental level.
While the city may not have the authority to address all of the residents’ requests, reestablishing collaborative relationships with other government entities would aid in formulating comprehensive and sustainable solutions for this longstanding challenge.
The community has set a deadline of 11 July for Premier Lesufi to visit them, while city officials have promised to commence work on improving electricity and water services starting next Monday.