Fed-up villagers demand that a 48km stretch of the R61 be tarred
Hundreds of pupils in Ngqeleni – and their parents – have boycotted school since Tuesday.
Last Tuesday, disgruntled parents started blockading a service road where it joins the R61.
They are demanding a 48km stretch of tarred road from R61 between Ntlaza and Libode to Hluleka Nature Reserve.
Scores of parents, sometimes up to 100, have been at the junction of the district road DR08329 and the R61 at 6am near Dlanjwa village and have prevented cars from driving to the village.
The road leads to 50 villages.
Scholar transport, teachers and clinic nurses have been turned away.
The Dispatch visited some of the schools on Friday.
It was dead quiet at Gcinizizwe Senior Primary in Katilumla village and Pondomiseni Junior Secondary school in Maplotini village and Mampondomiseni clinic.
There were no pupils and no patients to be seen.
“When you have a problem in society these days, one has to wear overalls and protest,” said Hluleka Nature Reserve forum chair Thembinkosi Gwaji.
“There are services that are affected during strikes. We know what we are doing is painful but it’s the only way that government will pay heed to our demand.
“This happened in Limpopo too and their grievances were met.”
In February, hundreds of residents protested on the R61 near Mtyu village demanding the tarring of the road.
Gwaji said that in May, MEC Weziwe Tikana promised that the first phase of the road construction would begin in October. “This can be fixed within two hours. We are going to close the road until government comes to us.
“We want this road to be tarred. People have been suffering for years using this road. Some have died on it.”
Gwaji said they had tried to communicate with the MEC, but in vain.
Department of education spokesperson Malibonge Mtima said: “We know the issues raised by parents are important, but we urge them to not forget that it’s nearly time for final year exams.
“Give pupils a chance. Closing schools is derailing their children.”
Transport spokesperson Unathi Binqose said Tikana wanted to meet the villagers but “on the said day [October 1] she was sent to the disaster-stricken Cala”.
He said the construction of the road would start in two months’ time.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane commented: “People must stop burning infrastructure and closing schools when they want other services.”
He said the road would be constructed.