2023: The wrap

Solidarity protests in support of the people of Palestine against the ongoing genocide by Israel started in October. Photo by Mzi Velapi

A summary of stories reported by Elitsha this year.

These are some of the best stories we covered this year. In February we brought you a story about violence that was directed at scholar transport by taxi associations in the Western Cape. The week-long blockade and associated violence led to thousands of learners in township schools losing days of learning and teaching.

The taxi association Codeta was interdicted by the WCED. Archive photo by Vincent Lali

Public sector unions, activists and unemployed youth came together against the austerity measures by government and called for a budget that responds to the social and economic crises affecting them.

One of the demands of the unemployed groups that marched to parliament earlier this year was a universal income grant of R1,500. Photo by Asive Mabula

Public sector unions were divided on the 2023/24 salary agreement that was tabled by the government. Nehawu was the last union to sign the agreement as they went on strike for 10 days.

Despite a court interdict preventing essential workers and those not covered by the bargaining council from going on strike, the National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) insisted the strike would continue. Photo by Mzi Velapi

In April, we brought you a story about how dilapidated schools impair teaching and learning in the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape Department of Education had revealed that 2,000 of the 5,000 schools in the province have poor infrastructure while about 1,000 schools have no electricity and over 100 schools still use pit latrines.

Imiqhayi Secondary School in Mount Coke. Photo supplied.

As Langa celebrated 100 years of its existence, its residents were not happy with the services that they receive from the City of Cape Town. The second oldest township in South Africa, Langa was established in 1923 but the culturally rich township, residents felt, has not developed sufficiently socially and economically.

The Old Flats in Langa, used to be single sex apartments when they were built in 1944 with two migrant workers in each apartment. The flats are so small that some of them can only accommodate a double bed and a stove. As time went by and the population in the city increased, people started to form families and as a result, the flats became single family homes with low rent.

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Langa Old Flats were built for single, migrant men in the 1940s and they are now home to families. Photo by Mzi Velapi

In June, the Simunye Workers Forum (SWF) after a lengthy Labour Court battle was registered as a union. Following a fierce standoff with the registrar, the SWF had the last laugh as the court handed down a judgement ordering that it must be registered as a union and be granted a certificate reflecting this within 14 days.

Members of Simunye Workers Forum outside the Labour Court in Johannesburg. Photo by Ramatamo Sehoai

The Amadiba Crisis Committee were determined to fight against the construction of the South African National Road Agency’s (Sanral) coastal route, citing the capture of the construction project by corporate interests and the environmental damage it will do. The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) vowed to continue the fight for Sanral to reconsider its proposal for an alternative inland route.

The Msikaba Bridge will cross the 195 metre-deep Msikaba River gorge, and once completed will be the longest-span cable-stayed bridge in South Africa, standing at 580m. Photo from Sanral Facebook page.

In August we reported on the violent taxi strike that left five people dead, commuters stranded, schools closed and public healthcare facilities burnt down. The eight-day strike was against the implementation of the National Land Transport Act and the impoundment of violating taxis.

The taxi protest affected the provision of healthcare at central, district and community level in Cape Town. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Families of the eight workers who died in the blast at the Rheinmetall-Denel Munitions (RDM) plant in Somerset West in 2018 said they want a formal inquest to be conducted to hold the arms manufacturing company responsible for the deaths. The calls for an inquest came on the back of a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Western Cape not to prosecute anyone because the available evidence does not give them a reasonable prospect of successful prosecution. The NPA’s decision was a shock to the families because a public inquiry by the Department of Employment and Labour that was headed by one of the department’s inspectors recommended that the company be criminally prosecuted.

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Six of the eight victims’ families attended the commemoration event held at the RDM factory in Somerset West. Photo by Sindile Gulwa

A report by the Children’s Institute demystified long-held stigma that teenagers get pregnant to access the child support grant (CSG), contributing to a rise in teenage pregnancy. The University of Cape Town-based institute said that according to research evidence, the overall fertility rate has been declining for years, and that teenage pregnancy rates have not risen. The report, commissioned by the Department of Social Development, shows that early and continuous receipt of the CSG is associated with decreased sexual activity in adolescence and reduced teen pregnancy, alongside protection against other adolescent risk factors (for example, substance abuse).

Despite the ongoing debate on a correlation between teenage pregnancy and access to the child support grant, research by the Children’s Institute has proven that while South Africa might have a relatively high rate of teenage pregnancy, it can’t be linked statistically to social grants.

Extortion is a trending crime that has impacted construction projects nationally. The City of Cape Town (CoCT) launched an anti-extortion campaign aimed at fighting organised crime groups that target the construction industry and small businesses. Cape Town beefed up security and offered rewards for tip-offs to try combat the scourge.

The City of Cape Town said it is spending millions on security to combat the extortion mafia. Photo by Mzi Velapi

“This is going to be another Hammanskraal, but it can be avoided if we fight.” These were the words of Merle Dietrich during a community speak-out organised by the Western Cape Water Caucus about water supply and other services in Goedverwacht just outside Piketberg on the West Coast. The Moravian missionary town in Bergrivier Municipality is home to 600 families and has never had clean water since people settled there.

The community of Goedverwatch said they have no confidence in the Moravian Church as the land owners, to render services to them. All photos by Mzi Velapi

South Africans went to the streets in October in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Demonstrations of solidarity with Palestine were held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban under the banner of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They called for an end of all links with apartheid Israel, the Israeli ambassador in Pretoria to be declared a persona non grata and for diplomatic relations to be severed, and for the prosecution of South Africans joining the Israeli occupation forces in contravention of our Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act.

In Cape Town, about 300 protesters demonstrated outside the Israel Centre. Photo by Mzi Velapi

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande announced the official opening of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) bursary applications for the 2024 academic year. The announcement on 21 November highlighted recent incidents of gender-based violence at universities.

In August, students marched to parliament to demand answers for delays in the payment of their grants. Photo by Asive Mabula

Elitsha will be back in the new year, bigger and stronger whilst continuing to bring you stories and analysis of issues that affect the poor working class in your community, nationally and abroad.

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