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Saturday, October 31, 2020
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    MEC visits grieving families

    On Sunday evening, 19 January, a bakkie drove into a group of 7 people at Vlaklaagte and all seven were killed. On Wednesday, 22 January, MEC Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Cynthia Gabisile Shabalala visited the bereaved families.
    The wailing was heart-wrenching to hear and the whole community stood together as one to support the grieving families.
    Pastor Lucky and Pastor Gift said: “On behalf of Pastors working in the community of Holfontein, we were so shocked about what happened. We as a community must go back to God. God can comfort us during this tragedy.”
    The MEC Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Cynthia Gabisile Shabalala, visited each family and expressed her condolences and support to the families. She was followed by an entourage of GMM dignitaries that included the mayor, Thandi Ngxonono and several other ANC councillors.
    The MEC arrived in metallic silver high heels, not at all prepared for the poor living conditions that the residents of Vlaklaagte have to face every day.
    The entourage of dignitaries had to negotiate pools of water running down the muddy roads. The Road Accident Fund (RAF) was also present and families were promised that they could claim pay-outs for their lost ones.
    The message from the MEC was the same to each family (translated from Zulu): “I am here to defend the people who were in the accident. It was a terrible accident, especially because it was young people.
    The African National Congress Government takes care of people. I will be here for the families who are grieving and we’ll take care of them.
    We, the government, are grieving with the people. We know there are still people driving recklessly and we must be safer on the roads. We must try harder to teach people about road safety. We know this driver was not driving safely and the law is taking its course because there were charges laid against him. As the charges have been laid, the court will not go soft on him as there is enough evidence against him. As a government we have a lot of problems but we made time to come here to give our condolences to the families. May their souls rest in peace and we would like to send our condolences. May the Lord be with the families.”
    Opposition leader in the GMM council, Democratic Alliance Cllr Ciska Jordaan spoke to The Bulletin: “Residents of Holfontein have been highlighting their concerns surrounding this dangerous road since early in 2019. Since then, the request for speedhumps or speed reducing ruds have been made by myself to several relevant departments in the municipality, to no avail. The Provincial Department Public Works, Roads and Transport had finally complied to this request by installing speed humps during last week, at great cost to the Holfontein community.”
    DA Cllr Jordaan further stated that she joined the MEC and her delegates with the sincere intention to pay respect to the grieving families only to experience the exercise as yet another ANC roadshow seemingly meant to extinguish the criticism that rose from the Holfontein community after the accident, with promises of pay-outs from the Road Accident Fund.
    “The DA condemns in the strongest terms the undesirable tendency of municipalities to react to the needs of residents when it is too late, especially when their safety is concerned, such as in this terribly saddening case.”
    Cllr Jordaan continued: “The DA remains grateful that the speed humps were finally installed and hopes that this will enhance safety for pedestrians and road users of the Vlaklaagte road. They will also be verifying whether the aid that was promised to the families of the deceased is received.”
    When the residents of Vlaklaagte were given a chance to express their concerns and raise their grievances, it appeared as though they were scared to do so.
    Another source informed The Bulletin that this was not the first time there was an accident on that road. They said that several animals were hit by speeding drivers in the past.
    The afternoon was marred by poor organisation and lack of transparency. Initial reports indicated that the MEC will arrive at 09H00 but a select few received information that the MEC will arrive much later.
    Only upon an enquiry by The Bulletin, a new schedule was distributed to the media. Even then the arrangements were not clear. At 15H00 a large contingent of people were gathered at the Trichardt Police station.
    Provincial Traffic Officer Skosana showed her disrespect towards journalists by trying to engage in an argument regarding communication between the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison office and media, showing her lack of knowledge of the communication sent to the media. At around 16:45 the mayor’s brand-new BMW X3, suddenly, raced off from Trichardt Police station. This was after Speaker Zuma told The Bulletin that they (dignitaries) had no idea that this was happening and that they only found out about the MEC coming to Vlaklaagte an hour ago. No communication was received as to the mayor’s sudden departure. The media, traffic officers and SAPS were not informed and took it upon themselves to follow the mayor’s car. Only to wait another half an hour at Vlaklaagte for the MEC to arrive.
    “Let us hope that this forgotten and neglected community will now receive the attention that they deserve,” concluded Cllr Jordaan. – Ané Prinsloo

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    MEC visits grieving families