By Olebogeng Molale
Residents of Vanderkloof under the Renosterberg municipality in the Northern Cape are up in arms because they have not received municipal services for five months now. Residents said over the last five months, refuse has not been collected and sewage is flowing everywhere which poses a health hazard.
This comes after the power utility, Eskom, got an interdict to freeze the multiplicity bank account due to an outstanding debt of over two million.
Maria Van Renberg, who has been staying in the area for more than 30 years, said what is happening is a disgrace. She said the provision of basic service is suffering, and they are getting tired of the situation.
“I have never seen such a thing like this. How should we survive when there is sewage everywhere? Is this the life we are supposed to live? And no one seems to care, we have complained to our councillor, but he told us there is nothing he can do because the municipal account has been frozen as they owe Eskom money, but the fact remains, we are suffering.”
Another resident Johannes Mess says the situation is difficult because the sewage comes with an unbearable smell which pose a danger to their health, especially children.
“We are in danger here very soon most of us will be sick due to this sewage and litter that is everywhere, we do not even know where to go now because no one listens to us, the premier knows about this, but we see no interventions to these problems. We are sick and tired of being treated like we are not human-being while we pay our rates but not receiving any services for months now, just look at how dirty is this place,” Mess said.
Piling up of trash, as municipality fails to collect refuse. Picture: Olebogeng Molale
The municipal employees have not been spared. Eugene Vissagie who is an employee at the Renosterberg municipality said it is over four months without getting paid, and life is very difficult as they are unable to make end meets, he says some of his insurance policies have lapsed due to non-payment.
“I am a father, and it is difficult having to go to work every day and at the end of the month I do not get paid, as I am talking to you now my insurances have lapsed because I could not pay for four months now,” said Vissage.
Another employee, who didn’t want his name to be disclosed, said that every time he must go to work, he feels like he is going to volunteer as there is no indication that they will be paid their money any time soon. “Sometimes I feel like just staying at home, because I do not see what I am working for I am more like a volunteer than an employee who can survive four months without getting paid. I am fortunate that I have some relatives who are assisting me with food, but just think about some of my colleagues who do not have anyone to help them during this time. The whole situation is very stressful.”
The local Ward Councillor, Matt Posthumus, said they have reported sewage, which is now flowing into the nearby river to the council, and the Northern Cape provincial government, but there has been no assistance.
“Yes, I have reported these issues and also hoping that the relevant authorities will be able to assist because our people are suffering.’’ he said
The Mayor, Andrew Samson, said the freezing of the account has brought a lot of pressure to the municipality when it comes to the provision of services and payments of services to the community. However, they are engaging with the relevant stakeholders to intervene. “I must say it is true that we are failing to provide our people with services. We are trying but because the employees are not have not been paid over four months so some of them are dragging their feet on their work. Even as I am talking to you our account is still locked that is when we find ourselves in this situation,” Samson said.