Noth­ing sweet for Dududu res­i­dents

CityPress - - Voices - Paddy Harper voices@ city­press. co. za Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Pad­dyHarper1

Thurs­day. There’s not a breath of air cir­cu­lat­ing as we stand out­side the Jah Man Ser­vice Sta­tion in Mah­waqa Vil­lage in Dududu, KwaZulu-Na­tal.

Dududu is a town, if you can call it that, buried in the sugar cane fields in­land from Scot­tburgh on the south coast. The heat and hu­mid­ity have turned the vil­lage and the rest of the Vu­lamehlo Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity into one big tan­doori oven.

We’re stand­ing in the fore­court try­ing to get the Jah Man of Jah Man Ser­vice Sta­tion to talk to us about life in Vu­lamehlo.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity has just been ranked the se­cond worst in the king­dom and the fifth worst in the coun­try when it comes to the over­all pack­age of govern­ment ser­vices at all lev­els. A kinda per­fect storm of non­de­liv­ery, thiev­ery and gen­eral ne­glect slap bang in this beau­ti­ful val­ley sur­rounded by sprawl­ing sugar cane farms, which use the few res­i­dents lucky enough to have jobs as cheap labour. A sh*thole in par­adise, as it were.

Jah Man’s not one of those peace and love Rasta types. Jah Man’s not in the mood to talk to us about Vu­lamehlo, or any­thing else for that mat­ter. Es­pe­cially when he sees we’re not gonna buy any­thing more than two 500ml Cokes. Jah Man gives us the 1 000 yard stare and the wall of si­lence. It must be the heat. Ei­ther that or Jah Man’s feel­ing the ef­fect of the drought and the end of sea­son, and is out of Holy Herb. We move on to find more talk­a­tive lo­cals. A cou­ple of hours of jour­nal­is­tic tooth-pulling and we’re done. Peo­ple in Dududu are peeved with their sit­u­a­tion and dead scared of au­thor­ity. No­body wants to talk and ev­ery word takes a whole lot of coax­ing. We’re soaked with sweat and cov­ered in dust by the end of the ses­sion, but we got what we came for.

Things could have been much worse. We’ve spent the day in shorts and flip-flops talk­ing to peo­ple about what mat­ters in their lives. Be­fore our plans changed, we had been des­tined for an over­dressed day in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for the state of the prov­ince ad­dress. The worst kind of jour­nal­ism gig – re­port­ing on some­body read­ing a speech while the shooter takes pic­tures of talk­ing heads.

Thou­sands of cats in suits and uni­forms look­ing im­por­tant and talk­ing fis­cal dis­ci­pline while piss­ing away a good cou­ple of mil­lion on se­cu­rity, trans­port and lunch.

We head for Dur­ban, a gig on the Bluff and a cold beer at An­steys Beach.

Peo­ple in Dududu are peeved with their sit­u­a­tion and dead scared of au­thor­ity

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