The Wonderkop community has not received any economic support over the past seven years as its local municipality has failed to support it, rendering economic activities almost non-existent after the 2012 Marikana massacre.
The community, which is one of several townships under Madibeng Local Municipality, is host to several Sibanye Marikana mines, including where the infamous massacre took place.
The municipality, which has a population of just more than 470 000 across its 41 wards, was recently put under administration for the second time in five years. It has almost collapsed and not a single economic support service has been allocated to Wonderkop, allegedly owing to lack of land.
Speaking to City press from the municipal offices in Brits on Thursday, administrator Monnapula Motlogelwa said the municipality was broke despite having a handful of townships from which to collect rates and taxes.
Motlogelwa said the biggest stumbling block had been the availability of land, which belongs to Bapo Ba Mogale Tribal Authority.
“We want to build houses there, but the land belongs to the tribal authority and there was no consensus on land before. It’s only recently that an agreement was reached and government is making plans to build proper houses, especially in Ikaneng squatter camp, which is where the koppie is. We are going to replace the shacks with houses while they stay there,” he said.
Motlogelwa added that the traditional authority had been reluctant to release the land because the majority of the people living in Wonderkop are not from the North West, but are mostly migrant workers from the Eastern Cape and neighbouring countries.
He pointed out that the Wonderkop community was heavily reliant on government social grants and Sibanye-Stillwater mines for employment.
“Sometimes you have more than 95% reliance on social grants of various types and it’s only the mine work and grants that bring in economic activity in communities such as Wonderkop,” he said.
Motlogelwa said the ventilated improved pit latrine project done in the community in 2012 was the last one by the municipality.
He said the mines had not done much in the way of economic support for the local communities, including Wonderkop.
“There could not be any plans all along because there was no land,” Motlogelwa reiterated.
The municipality’s manager for urban renewal and rural development, Johnny Motsusi, said the mines had a tendency of fiscal dumping at the tail-end of their mining licences.
“Towards the period where they renew their licences is when they are actively involved in implementation,” Motsusi said, adding that without land the municipality’s hands were tied in assisting the community economically.
The Madibeng Local Municipality, which has a budget of R2.5 billion, of which R2.3 billion is spent on costs, is one of the worst run in the country. It has record-breaking red flags from the Auditor-General about fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
The municipality collects nothing from Wonderkop as illegal connections for water and electricity are rife.
With virtually no economic support from the troubled local municipality, the areas of Ikaneng and Wonderkop are highly unlikely to offer a better life for a wounded community.