63 Orange Farm residents arrested after protest for service delivery

Tuesday 16 September 2008 by Ahmed

15 SEPTEMBER 2008 - Angry Residents in Orange Farm take the Golden Highway to demand basic services

More than 63 residents were arrested yesterday morning for public violence and will be appearing today at the Vereeniging Magistrate court (they have since all been released without charge). A strong crowd of more than 2000 residents organised by the Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee took to the streets in the early hours of Monday morning, 15 September 2008, to blockade traffic on the Golden Highway. Police opened fire with rubber bullets injuring demonstrators and arresting residents randomly.

The residents of Orange Farm Driezek Extension 4 and 5 took to the streets in protest for speedy service delivery in the area following a year-long silence from the local ward councilor Meisie Msimango. We can recall that early this year on Monday, 12th May 2008 more than 1500 residents took to the streets declaring that there is no peace without development. The police were again let loose on the demonstration, firing rubber bullets and beating protestors.

It is the third time that the community of Orange Farm is taking to the streets. On the 6th of September 2007, residents blockaded the Golden Highway when patience was a burden too heavy to bear. Tyres were burned to barricade the road and the angry residents demanded that their grievances be addressed by the relevant authorities. Another main demand was the resignation of the ineffective ward councilors whom the residents rejected because these local politicians have repeatedly failed.

Last year, the local ward councilor Meisie Msimango gave a report that plans were afoot for the installation of electricity in the community. Because she doesn’t own ESKOM, the councillor said she would try to negotiate with the City of Johannesburg instead to address the issue of installing electricity in the area. But again this effort fell flat and the community has again been left disappointed.

The community is continuing with its campaign by fighting for access to electricity, water, health, education and adequate housing. Yesterday, housing officals (Mr M Radebe and spokeperson of the MEC Aviva Manqi) claimed on national television that their department is addressing the situation while it is clear that they are failing to deliver on their promises. Year in and year out, residents are taking to the street to highlight the very same problem.

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