South Africa – The Gauteng Government will spend R240 million to develop economically depressed former SA mining towns in the province.
This is according to MEC for Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs, Jacob Mamabolo who was speaking at Grootvlei Mine in Springs (Ekurhuleni) earlier this month after handing over toilets and a farming project to the community.
Mamabolo said that it was sad to see that after making a profit mining companies left the communities in a terrible situation. He said that since the new leadership came in last year they had been consulting with the community of Grootvlei to find ways to help them. “The first issue was that of security. The community said it was not safe because of armed illegal miners and other criminals. As government we have fenced the area to control movement,” he said.
Mamabolo said that with the help of the City of Ekurhuleni, the community was also provided with extra taps for water. Previously they had to share one tap which was also used by illegal miners to clean their loot.
Mamabolo said the second intervention was that of food security since the mine closed down. “We have brought in a sponsor in the form of Red Ants Eviction and Security Services, who are going to start a garden with the community, they told us that the land can produce 45 000 cabbages.
The community will be able to eat and sell some of them for income,” he said. The MEC said since most residents were former mine workers it should not be hard now to ‘do a different digging’, that of planting.
Mamabolo said that the Department of Human Settlements will also assist the community to register a cooperative with the Department of Economic Development so that they can sell vegetables to a number of retailers.
“We have also provided the community with five toilets as part of restoring their dignity. These toilets use new technology so we are testing them. If the community is happy, every household will be given one,” Mamabolo said.
Mamabolo also thanked the community for being patient and working close with the government without protesting. He said that places like Bekkersdal, Carltonville and Randfontein will also benefit from interventions from the government. “We have started consulting with some, there is no one size fits all solution. We are going to continue engaging with communities to find out their priorities,” he said.
Grootvlei community leader, Jeremia Aphane, said that the community was very happy with the services government brought to the area. “The garden project is more exciting as it has potential to create more jobs. We are going to set up a committee so that we make sure every household has someone who works in it,” he said
Aphane said that the fencing had enabled them to be free from illegal miners who used their water even in the middle of night and killed their dogs.
Mamabolo said that government intervention was not dependent on the court case relating to the mine. “We just want to make sure that the community does not suffer,” he said. Mamabolo said that the province cannot continue to have human settlement crisis brought by mines.