KZN’s se­cond worst: Vu­lamehlo

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­

The el­derly pen­sioner winces as he limps across the yard in front of Ezum­buzini, the place of sell­ing goats, in Mah­waqa Vil­lage out­side Dududu. He points out a cul­vert built by the Vu­lamehlo Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which he says floods ev­ery time it rains.

“Look at this rub­bish!” he says. He is too scared to have his name re­vealed in the news­pa­per. “The mu­nic­i­pal­ity built this in­stead of a bridge. They are jok­ing.”

He be­lieves that Vu­lamehlo, the se­cond worst mu­nic­i­pal­ity in KwaZulu-Na­tal and the fifth worst in the coun­try in terms of the Good Gov­er­nance Africa sur­vey, has failed its res­i­dents. He and his neigh­bours hope that its clo­sure af­ter the com­ing elec­tions and in­cor­po­ra­tion into the eThek­wini Metro will im­prove their lives.

“This mu­nic­i­pal­ity has done noth­ing for us. The last time the roads were graded was by the apartheid govern­ment. Now that there is an elec­tion com­ing, they are work­ing on the roads again,” he says.

“When we call the am­bu­lance or the fu­neral ser­vice, they can’t get to the houses be­cause there are only foot­paths. We have to carry sick peo­ple or our dead rel­a­tives to the road. It is wrong.” The old man be­lieves cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion is to blame. “This place is full of projects that they start and never fin­ish be­cause the con­trac­tor runs away. Look at th­ese wa­ter tanks. When there is wa­ter, we don’t know where it is com­ing from. When we drink it, we get sick.”

The po­lice, he says, are just as bad. “If you use my name and pic­ture on Sun­day, I will be a dead man by Mon­day. Things are bad in this place. Old women are raped and no­body gets ar­rested. Our cat­tle get stolen and no­body gets ar­rested.”

Slindile Ngubane (16) walks to take a taxi to go see the doc­tor in Umz­into, about 30km and R20 away. The Grade 10 stu­dent who wants to be­come a doc­tor shares a desk with three oth­ers in a class of 51 pupils who have no ge­og­ra­phy teacher this year.

“He left and they didn’t get us a new one,” she whis­pers. “I don’t think we will get one this year.”

She hopes govern­ment will im­prove the education she re­ceives and the wa­ter sup­ply. “At school, we drink from the tank. The wa­ter is bad, but we have to drink it,” she says. The toi­lets are worse.

“When I go to the toi­let, I have to go with my friend. The doors are bro­ken, so she hides me when I use the toi­let. Then I hide her.”

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