South Africa


Joburg mayor Gwamanda shocked at hardships faced by residents during visit to Diepkloof Hostel

Joburg mayor Gwamanda shocked at hardships faced by residents during visit to Diepkloof Hostel
Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Kabelo Gwamanda at Diepkloof Hostel on 28 June 2023 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lubabalo Lesolle)

Executive Mayor of Johannesburg Kabelo Gwamanda has acknowledged that service delivery at the Diepkloof Hostel is non-existent.

Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda on Wednesday came face to face with the squalid conditions Diepkloof Hostel residents have had to endure for decades. 

“The work of local government is to deliver services. There is no service delivery here. We have to start afresh,” Gwamanda said during a visit to the hostel following weeks of service delivery protests, which turned violent in the past few days.

“Your anger, residents of Diepkloof, is warranted,” Gwamanda said. “I don’t know why it has taken us so long to tackle the challenges that you are facing.” 

Gwamanda expressed shock as he came face to face with the hardships the residents of the hostel face. 

“I saw the toilets, but I will not speak about the toilets because that is awful,” he said.  

For decades now, Diepkloof Hostel dwellers have been living in abject squalor. They have no electricity and are forced to connect illegally to nearby power sources. 

The residents have also had to make do without water for years, and despite many residents having registered for RDP houses in the 1990s, the hostel has remained their permanent home.

Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda at Diepkloof Hostel on 28 June 2023 in Soweto, South Africa. The visit follows several days of violent protests by hostel residents and numerous engagements between the City of Johannesburg and residents to address the challenges involving electricity, sanitation and water services. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lubabalo Lesolle)

Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda on a visit to Diepkloof Hostel. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lubabalo Lesolle)

For the past three weeks, the residents have been out on the streets to protest against what they call empty promises. 

“Look at all the hostels, ours has been in this worst state for decades. We have been to the streets many times before but the responses have been endless empty promises,” said resident Joseph Xaba. 

“We have engaged with the leaders of the Diepkloof Hostel and I have been assured by officials from the city that they will  diligently implement the agreement concluded with the hostel leaders,” Gwamanda said. 

The residents’ protests turned violent on Monday, when protesters damaged some vehicles belonging to the media. Journalists were also attacked with stones. Three people were arrested during the confrontation. The police used teargas to disperse protesting community members.  

On Tuesday there was a meeting between the hostel indunas and leaders with city officials to discuss how the grievances might best be dealt with. 

“What I am here to do is to assess if the conditions that they say you are subjected to are what they say they are and determine if it corroborates the agreement with the indunas of the hostel,” said Gwamanda. 

“The agreement with the city and indunas is what should prevail, but as mayor I also have to personally do something. I will stay here and oversee all the relevant entities to see if there is progress,” he said. 

On Tuesday, the city’s MMC for community safety, Mgcini Tshwaku, also visited the hostel and acknowledged the neglect there. He promised to expedite the process of turning the situation around.  

Housing crisis

One of the residents’ most pressing issues is housing. The community has held countless protests in an effort to force the government to build them houses. When the houses were finally built, the city failed to explain the finer details to the community members. 

The expectation among the hostel dwellers was that the houses were RDP houses and they would live there for free However, when Daily Maverick visited the area in 2016, many residents said they could not afford the R750 monthly rental. 

The houses remained unoccupied and residents prevented people from other areas from occupying them.   

The Diepkloof residents told Gwamanda that they had had enough of empty promises. DM


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