A town’s never-ending story

Lifeline: The village has no piped water, electricity, roads, or schools and the village’s lone clinic is powered by a single generator. Picture: AFP

For years, the debate surrounding the ownership of the land in which Gong-Gong village stands has led to a deprivation of services to the community and residents starved of their basic human rights.

As it stands, residents say they have no electricity and use generators for cooking and managing household duties.

The one clinic that stands on top of the mountain has one generator. There are no schools, crèches and those who want employment would have to travel at least an hour on foot to the nearest town which is Barkley West.

Residents say services do not reach them, there are no proper roads and no water infrastructure.

“When the boreholes are broken, we rely on water from the Vaal River for survival,” Elizabeth Ndiaza, 33, who has lived in Gong-Gong village her entire life, said.

Ndiaza like many other people said challenges are vast in Gong-Gong but what stands out the most is the electricity situation.

“The municipality has distanced itself from us. They say the Gong-Gong communal property association is the one who owns the land and as such has the responsibility to maintain it,”

In a recent interview with acting municipal manager Kgotso Moeketsi, he confirmed the information given by the residents.

“Gong-Gong is not municipal land and thus we have no right to enter privately- owned land. We have no jurisdiction over the land. The story behind Gong-Gong village is a long one. I would suggest you speak to the mayor to find out more about it. I’m not in the office at the moment,” Moeketsi said.

“We have to sign a service level agreement with the community property association before we can bring services to the people of Gong-Gong,” he said.

In a letter dated July 13 to the residents of Gong-Gong from Moeketsi, the service level agreement with the community of Gong-Gong would be referred to the new council. “As you know, the current council term is coming to an end on August 3. This matter will therefore be deferred to the new council. This means the draft service level agreement between the municipality and Gong-Gong CPA will be tabled in the first council sitting,” it said.

However, residents say, the service level agreement was just an attempt to force people to vote as they had previously threatened not to participate in the local government elections.

Several months after the elections and residents say they still await the signing of a service level agreement, so they can get basic services.

In the meantime, residents suffer as a result of the ongoing debate regarding land ownership and the service level agreement, which the municipality has failed to sign.

Some community members who applied to the institution of commission of land rights and cooperative governance traditional affairs and human settlements (Coghsta), say the two parties have declared the land is under the jurisdiction of the municipality.

In a letter dated June 13 and written to Gong-Gong CPA by the chief director of land restitution in the Northern Cape it clearly states that Gong-Gong, which is farm no 371, clearly states this.

The letter says farms Goodhope 286, Brakfontein and Armskoppie were bought through the land restitution process, valuations made and an amount was paid out to the claimants.

“The farm No 371 was never intended to be purchased to settle the land claim. The land owned by the CPA does not include farm No 371,” it said.

This means, Gong-Gong belongs to the municipality and in another letter from Coghsta, the provincial housing fund is the legal successor and as such there is money being pumped into the development of Gong-Gong and yet there is no development.

The letter also states that the municipality has the responsibility to develop the land.

With all this evidence, the municipality still has not sent services to the people of Gong-Gong and as it stands, many do not have access to their basic human rights.