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June 16th 2022, and young people in Orlando have nothin...

Maverick Citizen


June 16th 2022, and young people in Orlando have nothing to celebrate

Young people in Orlando, Soweto say they still struggle after 28 years of freedom. They tell of difficulties at school and in their communities. (Illustrative image | Source: Photo: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

After 28 years of freedom in South Africa, young people in Orlando, Soweto, are still struggling.

Orlando is one of the most depressed parts of Soweto, quite broken compared to other parts of Soweto like Meadowlands or Diepkloof.  

The rent is lower. It’s dusty, there are no pavements or drains, young people don’t have playgrounds and the parks have been vandalised.

To tell the story of 16 June  2022, I went to some of Orlando’s schools because we need to hear about the experience of young people in schools and in their communities. I interviewed learners about their challenges and what they think the President should do to address them. This is what they had to say.

Kamogelo Tendani Rasanabo is a 15-year-old Grade 9 learner at Lofentse Girls High School.

‘Literacy problem’

“Literacy is a big problem in our schools. Most learners are struggling to read… I suggest that some people should be employed to help them. Bullying is the most common problem. We need psychologists in our schools. There is a lack of confidence due to the lack of trained educators. Low self-esteem is the problem as well,’’ said Kamogelo.

Gudulethu Tshifhiwa Mngomezulu is a 14-year-old Grade 9 learner, also at Lofentse. 

“Girls these days leave schools and end up falling pregnant. If I can be a President for a week, I would like to encourage people to get counselling. I will build more RDP [Reconstruction and Development Programme] houses because people are sleeping in the streets. The education system should be fixed. We need well-trained teachers. Some of the teachers don’t mark our books on time. They are impatient,’’ said Gudulethu.

Ntokozo Maseko orlando
Ntokozo Maseko (16) is a Grade 11 learner at Bhukulani Senior Secondary School. Ntokozo says marijuana is a problem at schools. (Photo: Tshabalira Lebakeng)

Ntokozo Maseko (16) is a Grade 11 learner at Bhukulani Senior Secondary School.

“Marijuana is a problem in our schools and it’s bad. School furniture is not enough. Our youth, they don’t go to school, they party and they drink a lot. We have a lot of peer pressure. 

“Learners should be supplied with tablets, so that online lessons can be implemented for those who don’t want to go to school and should study at home. There should be changes in the teachers’ attitude — angry teachers should not be allowed to teach,’’ said Ntokozo. 

Nthabeleng Ramailane
Nthabeleng Ramailane is 14. The Grade 7 learner at Qhobosheane Primary School in Orlando says there is a lot of bullying at school and some teachers discourage learners. (Photo: Tshabalira Lebakeng)

Nthabeleng Ramailane (14) is a Grade 7 learner at Qhobosheane Primary School.

“There is a lot of bullying at our schools and as the youth of today, we have peer pressure. Some of the teachers are discouraging learners. Homelessness is a big problem. Also, some of our youth are struggling with their identity and they don’t appreciate themselves. Some parents are getting child support grants, but it’s not being used to meet the needs of their kids,” said Nthabeleng. 

Keabetswe Potso (18) is a Grade 11 learner at Namedi High School.

“Some of the teachers are physical and sometimes learners end up wanting to beat the teachers. There is a lack of resources in our schools. Some of the classes have electricity and some are without windows. The food [in the school’s feeding scheme] is not nutritious. Some of the learners… don’t have proper school uniforms,’’ said Keabetswe.

‘Jobs for graduates’

Kagiso Mtimela (15) is a  Grade 9 learner at Madibane Comprehensive High School.

“Most graduates should get jobs; our brothers and sisters are at home not working. We don’t have enough playgrounds. Drug addicts are sitting in our parks. We can’t enjoy our parks, so the police must arrest them. 

“Another problem is that we don’t have street lights. Lack of electricity has become a problem when it comes to our studying time. Government should employ more graduates to work at schools. We need paving in our locations; it’s dusty every day. They must make sure that if there are food parcels they are distributed to each and every house. 

“The education system must be fixed. All schools should have proper studying equipment and toilets. We can see on television that in other provinces, other schools, they don’t have toilets… that is not good,’’ said Kagiso.

Lehlohonolo Mamabolo
Lehlohonolo Mamabolo is 15. The Grade 10 learner at Namedi Secondary School in Orlando says the poverty rate is high, food parcels should be given and relief grants should be increased. (Photo: Tshabalira Lebakeng)

Lehlohonolo Mamabolo (15) is a Grade 10 learner at Namedi Secondary School.

“Poverty is high; food parcels should be given, relief grants should be increased, or people should be given gift cards. We are starving as South Africans. [The] death sentence should be brought back,’’ said Lehlohonolo. 

Bokang Rakgosi
Bokang Rakgosi (18), a Grade 11 learner at Namedi High School in Orlando, says parents should stop sending kids to buy cigarettes and alcohol, because that is when they begin experimenting with smoking and drinking. (Photo: Tshabalira Lebakeng)

Bokang Rakgosi (18) is a Grade 11 learner at Namedi High School. 

“The government should stop the Nigerians from selling drugs. There are criminals that are robbing the stores. So, the retail stores should have security with guns. Parents should stop sending kids to buy cigarettes and alcohol, because it’s when kids start experimenting to smoke and drink alcohol,’’ said Bokang.

Xolani Samela
Xolani Samela (17) is a Grade 10 learner at Orlando High School. Xolani says teenage pregnancy is a problem, poor people don’t have jobs and the crime rate is high — ‘people are getting robbed each and every day’. (Photo: Tshabalira Lebakeng)

Xolani Samela (17) is a Grade 10 learner at Orlando High School.

“Our problem is teenage pregnancy. Poor people don’t have jobs. Crime is high in our communities. People are getting robbed each and every day. We need more police in our streets to stop criminals. We can’t walk at night because of criminals. There are people who are raping and killing our sisters, they must go to prison. Women and children are not safe. The President must protect them. 

“Drugs are everywhere, people are smoking nyaope. When they don’t have money to buy nyaope they are robbing us of our phones. We can’t walk freely with our phones. 

“Some of the kids don’t do well at school. We need skills development centres for the people who are good at using their hands,’’ said Xolani.

Thamsanqa Samela (16) is a Grade 9 learner at Job Rathebe Junior Secondary School.

“Some of the schools still don’t have smart boards. I would like to see all schools having the same schooling equipment. Sewage is a big problem in our community. I would like the government to fix sewage pipes because people are getting sick because of the hazardous smell. 

‘Free internet’

“In our community, we must have free internet. If we have free internet we will stop standing on the streets. If there is free internet it will be easy for us to do our homework at home. Police should stop criminals around the community. 

“People must have free houses. Some people are renting, but sometimes they don’t have money to pay rent. Other people are sleeping in the streets. They don’t have a place to sleep. Government must clean Johannesburg — it is not clean at all. Government must help kids who don’t have school uniforms.’’

After listening to these young people, the question I asked myself is, for how long will the young people of Soweto and South Africa have to struggle to achieve the freedoms they dream of and that are promised by the Constitution? Every year the government celebrates Youth Month, while the youth themselves have little or nothing to celebrate. DM/MC


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  • Thank you for this interesting but very sad article. The question is, “Why?”
    My view is that a socialistic mindset is to blame. A socialistic mindset breeds mediocrity. A socialistic mindset wants everyone to be the same, it makes everyone look to the government to solve problems and provide handouts, it makes workers (including teachers) be more concerned about their rights than the rights of others and it likes the “tall poppy syndrome” so that those who excel are brought back to the average.

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