A cry for help

If anybody is in any doubt as to why I work in Yeoville Bellevue, despite the odds, read this letter that arrived by email recently from a resident (I have made minor spelling and grammatical corrections, but left the letter otherwise intact). We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the allegations made in the letter. We believe, however, that it represents the views and frustrations of many Yeoville Bellevue residents with what is happening (or not happening) more broadly in the area. Most importantly, it captures the sense of powerlessness he feels in the face of his rights being trampled on. The most disturbing aspect of the letter is the writer’s seeming acceptance that ‘we don’t live in a posh area such as Sandton and we understand and have come to term with the fact that we will never receive the best services this country has to offer’. He then goes on to say, nevertheless, that we are ‘made to feel worthless and undeserving of human rights’. Later on, in a sentence of spectacular understatement, he says he is ‘disappointed’ about what is happening.

I regret to have to focus on race, but I must point out that this is not a bitter white resident unhappy with the decline of his suburb under the new dispensation. The writer is black, debunking the prevailing false claim that it is only whites who complain about what is happening in our area.

To kill a home’s Pride: In Yeoville

We are living in Yeoville, one of the City of Johannesburg’s ruthless streets. We are encompassed with low service delivery and very low regard for basic human rights

(I am a resident) of 70 Maurann Court, Hunter Street Yeoville. We directly border and neighbour Shoprite Checkers Yeoville. For nearly two years we have been living without full running electricity and decent running amenities in the building.

Maurann Court is among one of the many old and long standing building flats to be found in Yeoville. It is situated just behind Raleigh Street, the busiest street to be found in the area. We don’t live in a posh area such as Sandton and we understand and have come to term with the fact that we will never receive the best services this country has to offer.

It becomes a problem only when we are made to feel as if we are worthless and undeserving of basic human rights. We are being treated as invalids without the ability to think for ourselves. We work extremely hard daily, waking up in the wee hours of the morning preparing to go to work and be breadwinners for our families. Regrettably, we are seriously challenged, as we have to revert to taking baths with cold water and walking over piles of uncollected refuse.

When we come back after a long tiring day at work we attempt to cook dinner and feed our families but we cannot switch on the stove or the lights so we can see what we are cooking. Provided we are lucky and we are able to spend extra money –that we do not have- in order to purchase paraffin for cooking, which is even more expensive than a litre of petrol! Why is it this has to be so? We pay rent, levies and taxes every month as well as electricity costs, although painfully we suffer darkness.

Shoprite opened up a liquor store last year, so they increased the power consumption on our street, the electricity transformer could not handle the load and it failed; we had lived in total darkness for about a month. Adding to out list of troubles our other neighbour was a Telkom building, of which one morning we were all shockingly woken up to the explosion and collapse of the building, which left us in complete fear for our lives, belongings, homes. Our minds and hearts were consumed with emotional trauma. Following these events a City Power back up generator was brought to our street and we had power, however only for a short period it sustained us.

Our street lights have been affected ever since, as soon as it gets dark, one is worried whether getting home safely is possible as any body can and will be attacked by criminals who take advantage of this situation we have found ourselves in.

Shoprite has a problem with hording, sadly as they keep a pile of their waste products on the streets not having the decency to give us a healthy environment.

The street is infested by rodents because of the decay that has formed on the street outside their loading zone. A sewage pipe coming from their building, which had burst years ago, still flows out side the building. Dismally for us because of the barrier that was built on Hunter Street due to the Telkom building explosion, we are forced to walk over the sewage water and waste. The permanent stench that hits you when you pass Shoprite is unbearable and revolting. Just the idea that all the food they sell to the people of Yeoville has to pass through that sewage water while it is being delivered make one feel aghast.

The word for what we feel is one; disappointed. We are absolutely distraught that our City is so neglected and unattended to. As a community we stand together in the time of need and we try to work on issues that affect us directly by ourselves united. We cry in desperation for someone to hear us and incline his or her ear unto us, sadly no one heeds our distress.

Our Cities groan in neglect and cry for salvation, in the hope that someone will dispose their ear and give way to better care and maintenance for the purpose of future preservation. Our children deserve better living conditions so that they grow up to be tomorrow’s bright leaders and successors of this world. We are constantly in intercession with prayer for the edification of our government toward us in goodness and concern, so that they might do that which is right and good for our country.

We are all God’s children; let us love one another like He first loved us…

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2 Responses to A cry for help

  1. heard it all before says:

    Yeoville now is merely reflecting the minds of the people that inhabit it.

    From what it was, to what it is, another typical black ghetto shithole.

    Its a ghetto, as only blacks know how to make ghettos.its like haiti except the buildings haven’t collapsed from natural causes.

    Yeoville will never be what it was ever again, because the people that made yeoville and rocky street what it was have all left.

    The minds of the people living there, is what makes the place what it is, yeoville has just morphed into what its inhabitants want it to be, it looks no different to the rest of the shitholes in africa, that those inhabitants living in yeoville now, have cause and fled from.

    Cry me a river, I haven’t been to that sewer in a decade and that’s how I want to keep it.

    Truly disgusting

    • yeovue says:

      The problem with the above response is that it does not take into account the fact that the person who wrote the letter to me is himself black. This immediately negates his/her fundamental argument – clearly the state of the place only reflects ‘the minds of some of the people that inhabit it’. It also reflects a whole lot of other socio-economic things which Heard doesn’t bother him/hersef with.
      His/her claim that ‘only blacks know how to make ghettos’ is equally unsound. Ghettos originated in Europe (first use of the word appears to have been in Venice to describe areas where poor Jews were first to live. With the waves of immigration to America, there were Italian, German and Irish ghettos, many of them worse than some of the areas we see in South Africa today. (don’t believe me – do some research). Today, many ghettos in the US are indeed black, but this cannot be simply explained as people ‘wanting to live like that’. It is a complex consequence of decades of economic and social inequality and needs appropriate interventions to resolve.
      But the biggest problem is that Heard’s response is emotional and irrational – and reveals deep racial prejudice. There is therefore little point in engaging with him or her, largely because no amount of reasoning will have any impact whatsoever. I would therefore propose that he or she stays away from this blog ‘for a decade’. I’ll be happy.

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