Angry Limpopo villagers who demanded to know where their family graves have been relocated to peacefully protested outside the venue where President Cyril Ramaphosa was holding his Imbizo on Friday.
The Presidential Imbizo took place at the Motodi Sports Complex at Ga-Motodi Village in the Sekhukhune area.
According to members of five affected families who spoke to African Times but requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, their graves were moved without their consent to make way for the RH Burgersfort Private Hospital on the R555 road.
“Fortunately, I took pictures of the graves before they were mysteriously removed from this patch of land. Those pictures were taken by our political leaders but now when we visit the gravesite we can’t find our graves. These are our family members. We need to know where they are so that we can perform rituals.
“We have been asking around but nobody wants to answer any question about where our relatives were taken. It truly pains us that no one is willing to take any responsibility,” said one family member.
The families include the Mkhondo, Mnisi, Mzimba, Matladi, and Phetla.
Moreover, the family members stated that they were never compensated for the destruction of the gravesite.
They said although the land was earmarked for a private hospital, the government allowed for their graves to be removed.
“My grandfather was buried here in 1961. We suddenly heard that our grandfather’s grave had been removed and we had no idea what happened. We fought for this country for many years since we started staying here in 1951. Is this what the ANC government is all about?” asked an elderly man who protested in the protest.
The families called upon Ramaphosa to hear them out, but they were chucked out when they took their protest inside the venue.
EFF regional chairperson in Sekhukhune, Ali Maloba, accused Ramaphosa of using the Imbizo to campaign for the 2024 elections.
He said the people of Sekhukhune were swimming in many problems that an imbizo could not solve.
“There’s nothing special about a presidential visit except that it is another waste of taxpayers’ money. In fact, the president has officially launched the ANC’s campaign for 2024. As the EFF, we are not surprised that such a move has nothing to do with the real issues facing the people of Sekhukhune but about creatively bribing our grannies with food and blankets as part of their campaign strategy.
“After 28 years of democracy, we have schools in Sekhukhune whose learners still depend on pit toilets for relief and this is normal in the eyes of the president. Why is the presidency not reviewing all the imbizos previously held in Sekhukhune?” said Maloba.
Maloba said children still had to trek several kilometres to school due to corruption within the scholar transport tender system.
“Scholar transport continues to be a thorny issue, learners are allocated buses that are not roadworthy. Some service level agreements were signed late into the year, forcing some children to only start going to school towards the end of the second term,” Maloba said.
According to the EFF, schoolchildren in Sekhukhune were being subjected to the scourge of gender-based violence, whether directly or indirectly.
“Another form of violence being unleashed on our people is the issue of access to social grants, or the lack of. Our pensioners are the ones who are badly affected especially in the deep rural villages where most communities still depend on the Post Office for grant payments,” said Maloba. “For the past months, elderly people were badly affected when the Post Office closed and no one is saying anything including the presidency. Pensioners are now forced to travel distances in order to access their monthly grants. Is this the freedom they have fought for?”
In response to the challenges expressed during the Imbizo, Ramaphosa said the solution to the problems of Sekhukhune would be the District Development Model.
“The District Development Model means we work together. We work for the entire country and for Sekhukhune’s development to be complete, it must be combined with all the districts in South Africa. Sekhukhune cannot stand alone. It is what it is because of all the other districts of our country. That is what we must all accept. Clap your hands to demonstrate that you understand.
“Most of the issues you raised are similar. Before we can here, the ministers in our government gave themselves time to go around and meet a number of key role players. I also met the traditional leaders and they explained some of the challenges they have. Through the provincial government, we are addressing some of the challenges they have,” said Ramaphosa.