KZN’s second worst: Vulamehlo
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.”