Nkutšoeu Motsau, Chairperson of Azanla MVA, writes:
In the early 1970s we used to look with envy at the town of Vereeniging and lamented:
* The white man’s town is a beautiful town
* It has tarred roads and street lamps
* The houses are big and the yards are huge
* They have garden boys to work in their yards
* They have servants to work in their houses
* Everyone who works in their gardens is a boy
* Everyone who works in their houses is a girl
* The white man’s town is a scintillating jewellery in the night
* The black man is prohibited to go there at night
* The white man and his family are doing window-shopping
* They saunter leisurely enjoying the evening
* Neon signs are flashing and the fluorescent lights light the shops well
* They go to the movies and to the restaurants
* The black people work in the gardens of their schools
* The black people clean their stadiums and their parks
* They have it cosy!
No doubt the whites had it cosy. Sharpeville was lousy. We lived in lookalike four roomed matchbox houses. The rooms were small, and so were the yards. The streets are not tarred. You should see them after the rain. And there is no drainage at all. No streetlights. Nothing!
The people yearned for freedom!
We are now twenty three years into democracy. What has happened? Sharpeville remains much the same. Not much has changed. Indeed, there is more misery now. Unemployment has reached alarming proportions. The big firms and factories have closed shop. Stewarts and Lloyds and African Cables are no more! No Wire Works, no Steelworks, no Repco Wispeco, no Iscor and no coalmines!
They took over from 1994 with a landslide majority! The black people started buying houses in town. The white people started moving out to townhouses. Now the black people have taken over the houses where the white people used to live. Now they realise that they have bought very old houses. And it is expensive to live there. Not only that! Now Vereeniging and its city centre have changed! Vereeniging is very dark at night. It does not have streetlights any more. You cannot do any window shopping at night. The garage doors are used to cover the windows as a security measure. There are potholes everywhere! Prostitutes and drug dealers take over at night. Our children are in danger. Those who bought houses in town want to return to the townships. Those who are supposed to govern and deliver are simply enjoying themselves. You can imagine the Executive Mayor spending over one million rands on Kentucky Fried Chicken and Nandos! Now Sedibeng Municipality has become the capital city of Nyaope in Gauteng. Need I say more?
* The writer of this column, Nkutšoeu Motsau, was born in Top Location in the Vaal Triangle in 1953. He grew up in Sharpeville. He is a tetraplegic as a result of a car accident in July 2005 in Sharpeville and now resides in Cape Town, but still feels a deep rooted connection with the Vaal.