While residents have welcomed African National Congress (ANC) Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte‘s visit to Chatsworth south of Durban, they say it should show positive results for voters in the area.

Duarte spent a day undertaking door-to-door visits in Shallcross, Bottlebrush and Dassenhoek in Chatsworth, as part of the ANC’s community engagements ahead of its 107th anniversary celebrations in KwaZulu-Natal this week.

Community members say a lot of their issues need urgent attention.

Parts of Chatsworth came alive with the colours of yellow and green, just months before the country’s fourth democratic national election.

ANC officials and members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) are in KwaZulu-Natal ahead of the January 8th statement, as well the party’s election manifesto launch later this week. The ANC top six hit the ground running early on Monday morning with community engagements across the province.

Duarte spent her day in various wards in Chatsworth, south of Durban. Chatsworth has one of the largest South African Indian populations. The Indian vote has historically played a pivotal role in KwaZulu-Natal politics.

At the Shallcross Shopping Centre where Duarte engaged with shop owners, issues of service delivery, crime, and land invasions were raised.

“Service delivery, unemployment, housing, crime, drugs, bring back the death penalty, that’s one of the best things I would like because if someone does a murder, ten days later you see them walking on the street. It concerns me a lot because I have three boys, and my sons don’t even walk on the road because they’re even frightened of what they see on TV and what they hear. Crime has become very rife in Chatsworth and surrounding areas. Petty crime is on the increase every single day… drug issues, everything. There are pot holes on the road, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. A lot of groups come during election time, then after that we don’t even see our councillor around,” says one of the residents.

Since nine-year-old Sadia Sukraj was killed in a botched hijacking in the area last year, crime has come under the spotlight. Duarte says policing has since been intensified.

With reference to the drug scourge in the community,  Duarte adds that there is a hope that Chatsworth will receive assistance from the National Police Commissioner.

“The unfortunate, sad and unacceptable death of a child may not be the right way to actually wake you up but the issue here is the utilisation of firearms, it is violent crimes, domestic violence. We are hoping that the Chatsworth area as a whole could become an area where we can have more co-operation from the community. One of the critical areas is drug related crimes, and the silence that goes with drug dealing and the fear that communities have if they point out a drug dealer, they themselves will become a target. There is a national programme now to combat gangs and drugs, and we are hoping that soon Chatsworth will receive some of that assistance also from the National Police Commissioner.”

Duarte says communities who are victims of land invasions need to lay criminal charges with the police. The area has been plagued by illegal land invasions in recent months. Duarte explains the ANC’s stance on the issue.

“The ANC rejects the notion of land invasion. We don’t believe that any particular individual has the right to simply invade private or public land. In other areas, land invaders have simply been removed. It’s important that we take that position, because we are talking about land redistribution in a formal and legal way. That means that we would enable people to claim land from their ancestors that they believe might be theirs. The government is providing social housing for people and therefore the necessity to invade land is not needed. It’s important that where private property is invaded, people take up a criminal case.”

Meanwhile about 200 Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKVA) have staged a sit-in at the party’s provincial headquarters in Durban. They are demanding that they be provided with jobs and houses.

The MKVA members arrived at the provincial offices at around midday on Monday. Occupying some offices, they wanted a meeting with the provincial leadership. They refused to allow the media to enter the office they had occupied.

“The MKVA came to the office wanting to engage with the leaders of the province as a follow up on some of the issues they have raised previously with the leadership of eThekwini region. Now unfortunately the leadership had not arrived yet, so there was a bit of confusion while waiting for the Secretary… ” said ANC KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane.

The ANC is preparing for the January 8th statement at the Ohlange School in Inanda north of Durban on Tuesday. The party will launch its 2019 election manifesto in Durban on Saturday

Authors: Samkelisiwe Gumede and Prabashini Moodley