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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 353: Protesters Demand Jobs

http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=98924


CHAOS broke out near Sobantu, Pietermaritzburg, yesterday as residents stoned police, burnt tyres and blockaded roads, demanding jobs at the new Illovo sugar factory.
Illovo Sugar, which is yet to open for business, is near the entrance of the township on the corner of Old Bishopstowe and Royston roads.
The protesters also demanded that jobs be reserved for Sobantu residents only.
Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control.
Workers in nearby factories could not get to their jobs and the blockade caused massive disruptions to early morning traffic.
Intrepid Printers managing director Trevor Cape said: “Some of our shifts start at five in the morning. Only 30 [of the workers] managed to be at work instead of 140.”
He said the company was considering moving out of the area.
Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business CEO Melanie Veness said such protests harmed the the city’s prospects of attracting investors.
Illovo Sugar marketing manager Darrel Dewet said he was given to understand that the protest was not about his company.
He said he would meet the area councillor and community members today.
Sources said the protest had less to do with jobs and more to do with some residents in Sobantu wanting to oust ward councillor Thandi Matiwane.
Matiwane confirmed that she had been threatened.
“We were in negotiations with Illovo to employ our community members. At this stage, the factory has not yet opened and they only hired 10 temporary people to work for this week to clean the yard.
“The community complained about this and I don’t understand why, as we are still negotiating with the company for them to hire people permanently once they open their doors.”
Matiwane added that the protesters had threatened to burn her car and house.
A protester, Qiniso Phungula, told The Witness that the residents did not want people from outside Sobantu to work in nearby factories.
“All these companies should give priority to the community next to them. We were promised that we will get jobs in this factory, but now they employed outsiders, leaving us here,” he said.
Nelly Hlabisa said they were not happy with Matiwane.
“The councillor does not work with the branch executive committee, but with her own people. As a result, the community is frustrated. She is the main cause of this.”
The protesters demanded the presence of Mayor Chris Ndlela and when he tried to tell them this was not the way to behave, they heckled him.
Three schools in Sobantu were closed as teachers and pupils could not get to school.
Education Department spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said it was unfortunate pupils had missed classes.
- The Witness

What would you be willing to do to be able to survive and support your family? Most people would say "anything", so is it so unbelievable that a group of frustrated people would protest at what they see as (because it is) unfair treatment? A huge number of people in South Africa have never had, nor will they ever have, a good education. South Africa's education system is absolutely pathetic, and not free, so some people cannot afford it while on the other hand the majority of students simply drop out because they were never given a real opportunity to learn. They suffered through bad teachers and terrible curriculum's, only to fail over and over and eventually, give up. These children have a 99% chance of never experiencing the good life, since they have feeble reading and arithmetic skills. Most of these children will become semi-alcoholics in their teens and have babies at a young age. These kids don't dream of going to Paris for the summer, they dream of having a simple, comfortable life and of being valued by society.

If you live in a shack house and no one seems to care, you will not feel loved or valued by your fellow man. You will probably resent your "fellow man" and hold on to that resentment, until it turns into hate which may then turn into a blind rage. The rage is not really directed towards people who are financially better off, but toward the unfairness of life and the uncaring gaze of society.

The leaders you elect (or who are elected by their wealthy friends) do not fulfill their promises, nor do they act in a way that benefits you and those who live similarly to you. When you see your "elected" official, you see someone driving in a fancy car and throwing lavish parties while you don't even have plumbing enough to have a toilet or bath.

The only jobs you can get are low paying - so low that you are probably better off staying on the measly welfare that the state provides. Having more children doesn't help, but it happens. The current monthly state support for a child in South Africa is around R290, which is just over US$30. R290 can buy you 10kg rice, 10kg sugar beans, 2,5kg sugar, and 2kg frozen chicken portions - if it's on special. This obviously means that there is no way to buy clothing, medicine, pay school fees, buy school stationery, buy school uniforms...

What would you give for the chance to give your children a better life than you ever had? Everything. Unless you're a drunk and are way past caring about anything but yourself.

What other option is there? Voting doesn't seem to help - the government is corrupt. Getting a job doesn't help, because even if you can find one it doesn't pay enough to life your entire family out of poverty. Welfare doesn't help, it's not even enough to survive. What else can you do? You have no computer, and even if you did you don't have the literacy skills required to do anything significant. You know the school you're sending your kids to is a farce, but there is no other choice.

What do you do?

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