Fire risks and water insecurity plague Kempton residents as critical infrastructure projects remain incomplete

Residents of Kempton Park face a serious threat from fires and water insecurity as the Ekurhuleni Municipality drags its heels on the completion of the Albertina Sisulu Fire Station and Kempton Park Reservoir.

On my visit to these sites, I was joined by Ward 16 Councillor, and DA Shadow MMC for Community Safety, Jaco Terblanche, who has been driving these issues on behalf of residents since the inception of these projects.

The Albertina Sisulu Fire Station, which is meant to service the entire Kempton Park and areas such as Serengeti along the R21 remains incomplete despite construction starting in 2016.

The completion date for this so-called “flagship project” has been repeatedly pushed out. The station is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this municipal financial year, yet given what I have seen – it is unlikely that this station will be completed on time and will undoubtedly pushed out to a further date.

The cost for the completion of the station was budgeted at R20 million but has now reached a staggering R60 million.

Like many other municipal infrastructure projects that I have visited in Ekurhuleni, delays to this project have had serious and adverse effects on residents, while costs have spiralled out of control – with little to no explanation for this.

Similarly, the Kempton Water Reservoir – which was as a result of a petition by residents in 2014 due to continuous water outages in the area, came to a complete standstill in 2020 and work only recommenced in February of this year.

Funds budgeted for this reservoir were redirected so that the municipality could buy PPE’s.

It is a well-known fact that PPE procurement in the municipality fell victim to corruption as price inflation bled the municipal coffers dry.

Water is life. People cannot live without water. Access to water is a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution.

Given the recent spate of municipal water outages due to Rand Water bungling, a reservoir such as this would have secured Kempton Park’s water supply for 10 days in the event of Rand Water closing its taps.

However, incompetence by those in green, yellow and black have subjected residents to water insecurity – with no prospect of the situation improving.

Under a DA-led Ekurhuleni, crucial infrastructure projects will not be abandoned or fall prey to corrupt tender processes. People’s money will be spent wisely and there will be severe consequences for those who abuse the public purse.

Deaths increase as Helen Joseph hospital struggles with overcrowding and 148 staff vacancies

Deaths and serious adverse events have increased at the Helen Joseph Hospital’s emergency department as they battle with a flood of extra patients from the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital despite having 148 staff vacancies.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the emergency department has been severely affected as follows:

  • Overcrowding as a result of bed shortages in wards and especially the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Overload of staff and equipment.
  • The Resuscitation area often holds double the intended patients, with associated lack of vents/monitors and staff to monitor all patients.
  • Oxygen has been a challenge especially over the Covid-19 epidemic.
  • Staff burnout.
  • Increased deaths and Serious Adverse Events as they do not have the staff to see all patients.
  • Increased complaints due to the huge strain on doctors who may get short-tempered with patients and relatives who are aggressive and rude.

Another major problem is that the number of psychiatric patients is more than four times what they can handle, with many incidents of abuse to staff including the stabbing of a security guard and attempted hanging of a patient in a small cubicle!

The hospital’s 148 staff vacancies include 125 nurses, and 8 vacancies in the hard-pressed emergency unit.

There are 2206 funded posts in total, but the hospital should really have 943 more posts to perform its upgraded functions as a Tertiary Hospital. A proposed organogram for these posts was submitted in January 2013 but was never implemented.

I am greatly concerned at the Gauteng Health Department’s neglect of this hospital by starving it of the funds and staff needed to provide a proper health service for patients.

The most visible strain is in the emergency department where medical negligence has soared and lives are lost because of gross overcrowding.

Meanwhile, R500 million has been wasted on refurbishing the Anglo Ashanti Hospital in the far west rand, which the Special Investigating Unit has found was spent irregularly. This money should have gone to existing hospitals like Helen Joseph which are struggling with extra patients due to Covid-19 and the partial closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

The DA will push for better health spending in areas of greatest need to alleviate suffering, rather than corrupt projects that waste money.

Clandestine jobs scam operation in Johannesburg Water exposed

Note to Editors: Please find attached a video of Cllr Phalatse meeting with the Group Forensics Investigation Services spokesperson, Lucky Sindane.

Yesterday, I accompanied whistle-blowers to the Group Forensics Investigation Services (GFIS) to report a jobs scam operation within Johannesburg Water that has been running in a clandestine manner since May 2019.

Hundreds of desperate jobseekers were coerced into making payments between R1000-R1500 for ghost general worker and driver positions within Johannesburg Water. These payments were either deposited directly into bank accounts or into bank accounts via Shoprite Money Market transactions, where individuals within Johannesburg Water pocketed the money for themselves.

These jobseekers were registered as employees of Johannesburg Water and given a personnel number, but were never given actual employment with a weekly or monthly salary. This prevented them from applying for social grants because they were registered as employees.

Some of these whistle-blowers are parents who made these payments to help get their children employed.

Further to this, one whistle-blower disclosed that he was coerced into borrowing money from loan sharks in order to make these payments.

Upon arriving at the GFIS office in Johannesburg, I was met by their spokesperson, Lucky Sindane who personally promised me that he would take the statements of these whistle-blowers and investigate further.

Sindane further promised me that these whistle-blowers will be protected. They have taken a great risk to expose blatant corruption within the municipality. It is when whistle-blowers expose such egregious theft of tax payers’ money, they help create the environment where no one will be tempted to commit such criminality in government again. Whistle-blowers of South Africa deserve the recognition for the role they play in defending our democracy.

Corruption such as the Johannesburg Water jobs scam will not be tolerated in my administration. I will create a culture of encouraging any municipal employee to come forward with information of corrupt activities, so those that commit these acts will be scared away from ever doing so again. Corruption will also be rooted out in the form of investigating any officials who encouraged and facilitated such corrupt activities, and if found guilty, will have their employment terminated.

The only way to end corruption is to have zero tolerance for corruption. That will be the guiding philosophy under a DA administration.

Delayed completion of Krugersdorp taxi rank negatively affecting commuters and local businesses

Note to Editors: Please see the attached video of Tyrone Gray, the DA Mogale City Mayoral candidate. 

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) visited the Krugersdorp taxi rank to assess the progress of the construction project. See photos here, here, here and here

The project which started in 2018 has missed its completion deadline by two years and was meant to improve the old and small taxi rank located near a field on the corner of 3rd Street and Pretoria Street.

Mogale City Local Municipality had previously blamed the delays on unforeseen construction issues and payment delays.

The DA has learned that taxi owners are losing money due to the incomplete project, taxi operators are currently using the old taxi rank which is located outside the CBD ferrying passengers at their own cost.

The delayed completion of the project not only affects taxi owners but surrounding businesses, as many streets remain closed off and customers are unable to access them.

Further to this, the construction creates traffic congestion and difficulties for road users.

Today, DA Ward councillor Lynette Zwankhuizen attended a progress meeting and was informed that the new envisioned completion deadline will be the end of October 2021.

A DA government will ensure that all progress reports are transparent, as well as instituting developmental tracking on all capital expenditure projects so that the public can be well informed regarding project management of their community assets.

Non-performance will be met with penalties as per the Service Level Agreement.

Furthermore, all contractors will be vetted, ensuring that service providers who don’t adequately perform are blacklisted accordingly on the National Central database, preventing future contracts from not being completed timeously.

South Hills water crisis sits at the hands of Rand Water and Eskom

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon in Linmeyer and South Hills, Johannesburg, visiting residents that have been consistently affected by water outages in the area.

The South Hills water tower which supplies water to areas such as South Hills, Linmeyer, Risana, Tulisa Park, parts of Oakdene and parts of Rosettenville Extension, left residents without water for over a week at the beginning of this month. These residents found themselves in the same predicament back in July this year, when they went without water for nine days.

The South Hills water tower is a microcosm of the legacy of Rand Water’s failure to proactively and systematically maintain their infrastructure. The reasons given for the latest water outages in the area was that the Meyers Hill reservoir was below the threshold at which water could be pumped into the South Hills tower. Rand Water had a power supply issue at their Zuikerbosch purification works plant towards the end of August, which affected pump stations feeding into Meyers Hill. Just this past weekend, the Zuikerbosch plant again was affected by power supply interruption at Eskom’s Snowden substation.

However, it is not only power outages that affects supply to water towers. While Rand Water tries to scapegoat electricity as the only reason, they also throttle water supply when conducting reactive maintenance of their ageing and neglected infrastructure. If Rand Water proactively and systematically maintained their infrastructure over the years since their inception, water supply outages would be a far less common occurrence for residents in Johannesburg, and across Gauteng.

Added to this, Eskom still plays a part in the breakdown of water supply in Gauteng. Constant loadshedding has weakened bulk water supply infrastructure, while the national power supplier has also failed to maintain their own neglected infrastructure. The domino effect is there for all to see, especially when it is residents who are forced to collect water from trucks down the road.

Financial year after financial year, City Power has not been given a sufficient budget to upgrade their own infrastructure to help supplement the failures of Eskom. This just goes to show the positive impact that Independent Power Producers could play in the delivery of critical basic services such as water provision, where public entities such as Eskom miserably fail.

Johannesburg needs innovative and forward thinking when it comes to the supply of basic services. A metro municipality cannot be held ransom by failing national entities such as Rand Water and Eskom who do not have the will to keep the lights on and the taps running. There already exists municipal-owned power and water suppliers in the form of City Power and Johannesburg Water. With the right political leadership and sufficient allocation of budgets, these entities can pick up where national entities fail in their duties, so that residents no longer suffer, and can have a government that is closer to them who is responsible for all their basic services.

A DA-led Johannesburg would invest R20 billion on fixing, replacing, and upgrading roads, bridges, water pipes, waste water plants and power grids, will fix reported water leaks within 24 hours, and seek greater public-private partnerships to address the existing backlog so that residents can start being liberated from non-existent basic service delivery.

A manifesto of promise to help make the City of Gold shine again

Note to Editors: Please find attached an electronic copy of the DA’s Manifesto for Johannesburg that was presented by DA Mayoral Candidate for Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse and DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen during a live broadcast of the DA’s Johannesburg Manifesto launch here

Today, I launched my party’s manifesto for the City of Johannesburg that will ensure basic service delivery is put back on track and will help the City of Gold find its shine again.

I have spent the past month crisscrossing Johannesburg, visiting all regions and constituencies to hear first-hand accounts from residents who have unique service delivery challenges but have no help from a failing municipality.

In order to build a world-class city, basic services first have to be stabilised. Joburg has been neglected for too long – but this manifesto will be the instrument to turn things around and get the city working for all residents.

Every resident of this great Metro has a service delivery need, and every resident deserves for those needs to be solved.

This manifesto, a culmination of months of broad consultation between residents, subject matter experts, and Democratic Alliance (DA) public representatives, is a promise to the residents of Johannesburg; a declaration to implement the critical changes they so desperately need, and a promise to never abandon them. This is a blueprint for five years of good governance and I am here to implement these change for those full five years.

This manifesto can help reverse the damaged inflicted on the local economy by non-existent service delivery. While local governments are not responsible for the national economy, they still have a critical role to play in terms of offering sustainable, uninterrupted service delivery and ensuring clean and conducive environments for businesses to operate without more unnecessary hurdles. The DA wants residents in Johannesburg to have jobs and will fight tooth and nail to ensure the local environment is ripe for such job creation.

Together, with the right vision and manifesto, Johannesburg can start working again, and find the shine that has been lost for the past two years.

Etwatwa residents remain trapped in poverty while R60 million is blown on wasteful projects

The ANC-run Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has blown a cumulative R60 million on two sites in Etwatwa, Daveyton to stimulate economic growth in the most economically depressed area in the municipality, but once again – like anything built by the municipality, both sites are inoperable white elephants.

I conducted an oversight inspection to these sights and was joined by Ward 26 DA Candidate, Ashley Nyaniso, Ward 109 DA Candidate, Clr Raymond Dlhamini, Ward 66 DA Candidate, Clr Kabelo Mahonko, DA Shadow MMC for Economic Development, Clr Senzi Sibeko and DA Constituency Head for Etwatwa/Daveyton, Mat Cuthbert MP.

The Barcelona Trading Centre, opened in 2016, at a cost of R6 million, was supposed to create a safe and dignified trading space for small businesses in the area.

However, the 21 units at the centre are vacant.

Speaking to traders who operate across the road – traders who should be situated in the centre, they bemoaned the lack of public participation as the site does not draw the foot traffic from the Barcelona Clinic opposite where they trade.

Intermittent and unreliable water and electricity supply has caused the site to be all but abandoned.

Taps are missing from inside the stalls, windows are broken and the site is adorned in litter.

See pictures here here  here and here

This was the same situation at the abandoned Etwatwa Business Hive that we visited.

At a cost of R44 million, the Hive was opened in February 2019, yet has never seen a single tenant.

The ceilings are falling in, the light fittings are coming off the walls and there is no water supply.

This site, which could easily support 100 businesses, stands vacant and unused.

Residents of the community have not been encouraged to make use of the centre – with many not knowing what the site was constructed for.

Like other costly white elephants in the municipality, these sites are wasted opportunities to stimulate local economies and rapidly reduce the spiralling unemployment rate in Ekurhuleni which now sits at 39%.

Local economies and local job creation are vital for the survival and upliftment of places such as Etwatwa.

Under the DA, every white elephant economic opportunity in Ekurhuleni will be revitalised to get our economy growing.

Economic stimulation is key to lifting our people out of squalor.

As Mayor, I will not sit by and let our people remain trapped in poverty and hopelessness.

The DA in Johannesburg will never walk away from entrepreneurs and small business owners

Today, On World Tourism Day, I travelled across all corners of Johannesburg, visiting many tourist hotspots where entrepreneurs and small business owners have endured great challenges due to the Covid-19 lockdown and poor service delivery from the Municipality.

I spent the morning visiting places such as Victoria Yards and the Maboneng Precinct. Both of these districts offer a safe space and platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses owners to thrive by showcasing their skills through goods and services to an open market.

However, on top of economically-destructive lockdown restrictions, residents have also suffered poor basic service delivery that creates further frustrating challenges for these business owners. Basic services like water and electricity are the key needs of many small businesses. Without them, a hair salon for example would simply not be able to serve customers and would therefore lose an income. Johannesburg residents have endured constant unscheduled power outages due to ageing infrastructure and the additional, unsustainable demand on substations from illegal connections. Water supply is fast becoming a full-blown service delivery crises in Gauteng, with Rand Water having recently disclosed that the province now has demand far exceeding supply, followed by the implementation of water restrictions to mitigate this looming disaster.

While local governments do not control the national economy, they still have a vital role to play in creating the environment for businesses to thrive.

Getting the most basic services back on track for all residents is a priority for the Democratic Alliance (DA). A DA-led Johannesburg would invest R20 billion rand on fixing, replacing and upgrading roads, bridges, water pipes, waste water plants and power grids. On top of this, we would fix water leaks within 24 hours and ensure a vast reduction in electricity outages. A DA government can also ensure a reliable waste collection service so that public spaces used by small business owners and entrepreneurs can remain clean and welcoming to customers and clients.

But this cannot be where service delivery ends. Small business owners like those who operate at Victoria Yards and the Maboneng Precinct need more support from the Municipality. A DA-led Johannesburg would ensure that there are more Opportunity Centres throughout the City to support businesses and encourage entrepreneurs, while also playing a crucial role in offering skills development for jobs and apprenticeship programmes for young people to gain valuable skills and work experience.

The DA already has the proven track-record to get things done in Johannesburg. Between 2016 and 2019, we replaced 325km of water and sewer pipes which reduced leaks from 29% from 19%.

The DA is the only party with a track record of delivery in government. We have shown time and time again that where we get a full mandate, we get things done for residents and businesses. While we govern fewer than 10% of SA’s municipalities, the five best-performing municipalities are DA-run. The best-performing metro and province are also DA-run.

The local elections on 1 November are a crucial opportunity for the people and businesses of Johannesburg to finally have a council that gets things done for them.

39 assaults involving mental patients at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital

Mental health patients at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto have been involved in 39 assaults on staff or other patients since January last year.

This is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC, Nomathemba Mokgethi, in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, 30 mental health patients were assaulted by other psychiatric patients, and 9 employees were also attacked.

I am very concerned by the continuing lack of measures to avoid violence by psychiatric patients at this hospital. This is despite the terrible incident in May last year when an elderly patient was stabbed to death by a mentally ill patient who also injured another patient.

The hospital has admitted 2 319 psychiatric patients since January last year but does not have a dedicated psychiatric ward. The only arrangement is 14 beds reserved for male psychiatric patients, and 12 beds for female users in medical wards.

The hospital admits that there are inadequate beds for psychiatric patients, particularly because the Accident and Emergency Unit always has an overflow of patients who have to wait for a bed to become available in the wards.

Mokgethi says that a 14 bed unit is being refurbished on the ground floor to become a male psychiatric ward, and the referral system is being strengthened to transfer confirmed psychiatric patients to higher-level hospitals after 72 hours of observation.

The problem, however, is that the psychiatric unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is always full.

It is very disappointing that proper arrangements have still not been made to ensure the safety and well-being of psychiatric patients at this hospital.

The DA believes that the Life Esidimeni tragedy highlighted shameful neglect of mental health patients which needs to be rectified at all health facilities in Gauteng.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit to check your voter registration status.

Rand Water supply crisis sending Gauteng into desert drought territory

Gauteng is dangerously heading towards a full-blown water supply crisis, following Rand Water’s admission through a statement released yesterday that demand is overstripping supply, forcing the entity to implement stage one water curtailments and calling on consumers to change their behaviour to avoid an absolute disaster.

While Rand Water, the entity that supplies to all three of Gauteng’s metro municipalities, blames weather patterns for the poor natural supply of water, the entity still fails to acknowledge that the primary contributor to water shortages is the lack of managing and sustaining their infrastructure, to avoid leaks and other unnecessary water wastage.

Water supply challenges are being experienced across the Gauteng, especially in the metro municipalities, however, the DA-led Tshwane is the only metro raising awareness of this looming crises, while Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni sit on their hands, pretending nothing is wrong. It is only due to pressure from the DA-led Tshwane that Rand Water has come out to publicly admit there is a problem that requires intervention, but still fails to stress the real urgency of the situation.

There are several areas across Tshwane and Johannesburg experiencing water outages that rely on supply from Rand Water. For Tshwane, this includes areas such as Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, Laudium, Mnandi and parts of Centurion, whereas in Johannesburg there is a long list of affected areas such as Klipfontein View, who have not had running water for over three weeks, and the Kikuyu Lifestyle estate that is supplied by the Grand Central Resevoir, Mulbarton in Ward 23, Robertsham, South Hills, Linmeyer, sections of Midrand, Ivory Park and Buccleuh.

Rand Water and the ANC-led Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni are not taking the province’s water supply crises seriously. It is imperative that Premier David Makhura, and MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile urgently lead an engagement with Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu to ensure that Rand Water is immediately reigned in so that Gauteng does not fall to drought status like the provinces of the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape are currently experiencing.

Running water is a basic human right as enshrined in our country’s constitution and its imperative that the residents of Gauteng are kept informed and forewarned in order for them to prepare to ensure that their families do not suffer in the midst of an already hot summer season. In the absence of communication from both Rand Water and the ANC government, the DA will continue to communicate with the residents of Gauteng as information becomes available.

We simply do not have the luxury of time to mess around and wait until it is too late.

Local Government Elections are coming up! Visit to check your voter registration status.