Standing ovation for Alex residents’ attitude during special sitting at Petitions Standing Committee of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature

Residents of Alexandra deserve to be given a standing ovation for their ‘no holds barred, straight-talking and fearless’ attitude displayed during the special sitting of the Petitions Standing Committee of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature at the East Bank Hall.

The committee spent two days hearing various grievances from the people of Alexandra and other far-flung areas such as Cosmo City, Diepsloot, Kaalfontein, Klipfontein and Meriting.

The varied grievances ranged from lack of service delivery of electricity, water and waste collection to the shoddy allocation of housing units in the K206 settlement in far East Bank, which became known as Ext 9 and 10.

Families from the same shack community were allocated the RDP flatlets for free while others were allocated outside rooms that are attached to the flatlets and made to sign lease agreements to the effect that they would pay a monthly rental of R350 to the main owners of the flatlets, thereby creating a feudalistic landlord and tenant situation with people of similar social standings.

This kind of allocation of flatlets in the two extensions by the inept former Alexandra Renewal Project left residents of the area at each other’s throats, reducing former friends from an informal settlement, who used to live side by side peacefully, and often asked each other for salt and sugar when the items dried up in their homes, to bitter foes who now don’t see eye to eye.

It has created untold misery for both the landlords and tenants as it has set them against each other and destroyed the peace and tranquility and communal atmosphere that existed among these people when they were still together in the shacks.

Many of them have been in and out of police custody, courts, jail and hospital on numerous occasions after fist fights became the order of the day and stabbings broke out.

I was even horrified when one of them narrated to me how her 10-year-old viewed all the chaos. Each time there was a knock on the door, the son would ask her, ‘Have they come to harass you again mommy? Don’t worry, when I grow up I will buy a gun and shoot all of them’.

Another related a story of police vans. Each time as her daughter plays outside with friends and spots a police van coming in the direction of her home, she would come running in the house, ‘Mommy, mommy they are coming, they have come for you again’.

I am praising them for straight talk, for not mincing their words, for their bravery and for telling it as it is in front of their esteemed political leaders from the Legislature.

They appealed to them to ‘save us from lawless Alexandra’ which they also described as ‘a lawless enclave of the Gauteng province’.

I am praising them because one would have expected them to cower in front of the officials, but I am quite pleased with their boldness and determination to speak their piece of mind without fear or favour and calling a spade a spade.

Lawless indeed is the other nickname of Alexandra. You only need to read the pages of Alex News to know what I am talking about. Hardly a day goes by without a murder, a street brawl, a rape case, a robbery, an assault, a hijacking or even a wild west shootout reminiscent of the yesteryear movies of the wild west.

Edited by Stacey Woensdregt

Have you ever faced a difficulty in your community and used verbal communication and straight-talking to resolve it? Let us know how the words of the tongue are vital in problem-solving on the Alex News Facebook page.

Sipho Siso

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