Category Archives: Latest News

Minister urges men to apply for child grants

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has urged men who are unemployed, earning too little or for whatever reason cannot afford to look after children under their care not to shy away from applying for child support grants.

All children are eligible for the state social support grant depending on the income and national status of their parent or primary caregiver.

Since last month, to qualify for the grant, a single parent or caregiver must earn R3 200 or less per month.

A married couple must jointly earn R6 400 or less per month.

To be eligible for this grant, the parent or primary caregiver must be a South African citizen or a permanent resident or a refugee.

Men have generally shied away from applying for the grant for their children.

In some instances men have found it difficult to provide documentary evidence to support their applications when, for example, the father’s name is not included on the child’s birth certificate.

“Men can register their children for social grants too and of late we are even including them on the birth certificates of their children, unless of course they are those runaway fathers,” Dlamini said at a community imbizo in the Matjhabeng Local Municipality over the weekend.

The meeting was also attended Premier Ace Magashule and members of his provincial cabinet.

Meanwhile, the minister said her department had taken a principled stance to exclusively buy from local co-operatives school uniforms that it buys for needy children as well as the vegetables used in the government’s school feeding schemes.

“If young people around here can start vegetable gardens and tend them well, we will certainly buy from them,” Dlamini said.

“This same applies for women too – form co-operatives and make sure you produce quality products, and we will use your services.”

Matjhabeng loses millions in copper theft

Matjhabeng Local Municipality is losing millions of rands due to copper theft and vandalism of electrical infrastructure by community members.

According to the municipality’s municipal manager, German Ramathebane, 61 incidents of copper theft and vandalism at sewer pump stations were reported, with an average of 10 incidents per month, equaling an incident roughly every third day in the past six months of the 2013/2014 financial year,.

Ramathebane said the estimated financial loss for the municipality during this period is R2.5-million, which averages R416 000 per month.

“Last week Thursday, four electrical substations were vandalised and copper valued at more than R100 000 was stolen. These incidents occurred around midnight at Odendaalsrus and Hennenman substations. We have come to conclude that these acts are well coordinated by a suspected syndicate with intention to sabotage the municipality’s infrastructure.

 “An urgent intervention from the highest level has been arranged to attend to these high risk situations at the indicated ‘hotspots’. The Department of Public Safety and Transport are in the process of installing security systems with 24 hours armed response services at all substations, electrical stores and indicated hotspots,” said Ramathebane.

Ramathebane said a meeting has also been scheduled with the regional commissioner of the police; Matjhabeng Local Municipality’s department of public safety and transport, electrical engineering services, supply chain management as well as private security companies rendering services to the municipality and to implement proactive preventative actions to eliminate the eminent risk situation.

He said the municipality’s electrical stock levels are depleted and its electricity department is unable to repair vandalised and stolen infrastructure.

 “It’s quite clear that we are under siege by individuals who wants to see us fail in our mandated task of rendering essential services to our citizens. We have indentified suspects and the police are finalising their investigations before arrests.”

Ramathebane used the opportunity to urge residents to continue paying for their basic services to ensure that the municipality is able to provide uninterrupted electricity, water and waste services.

“Matjhabeng is serious about its mandate to deliver services to the almost 500 000 residents but without resources it is simply not possible. Citizens must understand that they dictate the level of service delivery to a large extent themselves. By withholding payment for services, or not paying for it at all, it becomes a vicious cycle which benefits no one in the end.”

Residents are also advised to call or visit Credit Control and Billing officials in all municipal offices in Matjhabeng to get more information about services.

Matjhabeng candle light switched on

After holding a sombre ceremony to honour the late former president Nelson Mandela last Friday, the Matjhabeng Local Municipality has officially ushered in the December festivities with its annual switching on of candle lights.

Speakers took an opportunity during the candle light ceremony to celebrate and honour Nelson Mandela.

The executive mayor of Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, said even though the world is mourning his death, Mandela dedicated his life to the struggle for equality of all races.

“Every year the residents of Matjhabeng, black and white, come from near and far for the countdown to the festive season. We have all races here today in central park and I believe that this is what many people fought and died for in the struggle against apartheid. Therefore, even though we are mourning his death, we are celebrating his life and all that Madiba stood for.”

Families that came from as far afield as Bothaville to be part of the candle lighting ceremony enjoyed picnics in the park.

“All of this was made possible for us because one man believed it could be achieved. Our country still has a long walk to total freedom, but our struggle has been made a lot easier by great men like Mandela,” said Jacob Cookham.

Both local and national artists such as Preston Sihlangu, known as Press performed at the event. Preston said it is always an honour for him to be a part of the initiatives which are hosted by the municipality as his birth place is in Virginia.

The former 101 artist dropped his third album Black at the beginning of the year, which marks his ‘rebirth’.

The Speaker of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Bheke Stofile, said the municipality encourages everyone to be safe during the festive period.

“During the festive season we tend to forget about being cautious. Therefore, we want to urge the community to get their cars serviced if they will be on the road, take care and lock up their homes properly; more importantly, criminal activities will not be tolerated.”

Mayors honour Mandela

The Matjhabeng Local Municipality and Lejweleputswa District Municipality paid their last respects to fallen world hero, Nelson Mandela, by holding a memorial service.

 Mayors of the two municipalities laid wreaths at Central Park in Welkom.

The executive mayor of Lejweleputswa District Municipality, Mathabo Leeto, said losing Madiba was a very sad moment.

“We must let go and allow Madiba to rest in peace. We will take over where he has left off. I know he will have peace if he sees that we are continuing with his good work to build a non-racist South Africa,” said Leeto.

Leeto erected the memorial wall when she was the executive mayor of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, in commemoration of the fallen heroes who made a contribution towards the liberation of the country.

“We must remember that everything that we have achieved in this country is because of thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives for us. We must keep that in mind as we continue to enjoy the freedom and democracy that Nelson Mandela and others fought for,” added Leeto.

Thousands of community members joined the mayors at the wreath-laying ceremony. They brought flowers to the memorial wall to bid Mandela farewell.

According to Philemon Gatyeni, a community member who also came to pay his respects, even though the world was aware that Mandela was ill, everyone idolised him so much that his death was still a surprise.

“When South Africa’s democracy was still in its infancy, and we were still young, we would joke that if Madiba ever died South Africa would return to apartheid. However, here we are today, 20 years into our democracy and black and white people are mourning the death of the former president.

“I believe it would make him very proud to know that he has accomplished his dream of liberating South Africa and lived a while to see it come to pass,” said Gatyeni.

The executive mayor of Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, held a small ceremony in front of the Matjhabeng municipal offices where he erected the South African flag and proceeded to lay wreaths at the memorial wall.

“The flowers are in honour of a man who was very much loved by everyone in the world. We would also like to give our condolences to his family and thank them for lending him to us. He spent very little time with them, because of his devotion to the country and his vision to have a non-racist South Africa,” said Ngangelizwe.

Mayor hands over title deeds

Two sick elderly women of Thabong in Welkom were pleasantly surprised on Tuesday morning when councillors of the Majthabeng Local Municipality dropped by to deliver their title deeds.

While handing out title deeds in Thabong, the executive mayor of Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, was informed of two elderly women who had been bedridden for months and could not fetch their title deeds in person.

“We understand the importance and symbolism behind receiving one’s title deed, therefore we wanted these individuals to be a part of the process even if it is from their own homes,” said Ngangelizwe.

This week 120 residents from five different wards in Thabong received their title deeds, with various wards in Meloding having received theirs two weeks ago.

“Along with forced removals, the apartheid government also passed legislations that prohibited black people from buying or owning land. The transfer of the title deeds was meant to be a smooth process, but there had been numerous problems over the years with changes in government structures, project difficulties and surveying hitches.

“We therefore want to assure the community of Matjhabeng that the long wait is over and the municipality is speeding up the process as best we can.”

One of the women who received their title deeds is 85 years old and has occupied her piece of land since 1985. Mahlao Motsumi said she had lived in the shack for years until she was handed over the keys to her government-subsidised home in 2009.

“I am happy and grateful to finally have the piece of paper that proves that I own this place I have been calling my home for years.”

Motsumi lives in the two-bedroom home with her four daughters, several grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“I was very happy when I received my house in 2009 because I had lived in a leaking shack that flooded and drenched when it rained,” said Motsumi.

Most of these residents live in subsidised houses and qualify for indigent grants, which mean they receive a discount on their water, electricity and rates.

Local ward councillor, Hlobohang Mokhomo, said it was a memorable experience to be part of the handing over process.

“I have realised throughout this process, that in order for our people to fight or protect their communities, they need to feel a sense of belonging. It is amazing to see their faces light up when their names are being called to receive their title deeds. Therefore, we would like to tell everyone in Matjhabeng who is still waiting that their turn is not far off.”

Meloding residents receive title deeds

A total of 19 elderly residents of Ward 7 in the Virginia township of Meloding are now proud owners of title deeds of the homes they occupy.

Last week, the executive mayor of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe said 202 title deeds would be handed over in Meloding alone. The mayor said the elderly who had been neglected in the past will be the first to receive their title deeds.

“We have prioritised the elderly in this regard as they have been waiting for their title deeds for a while. With this project, we want the people of Meloding and the greater Matjhabeng to know that they are not forgotten. We know about their struggles with their homes and title deeds, but all this frustration will now be a thing of the past,” said Ngangelizwe.

He said it was important that the residents receive their title deeds when South Africa commemorates a century since the apartheid Land Act which prohibited black people from owning land was promulgated.

The remaining 183 title deeds, Ngangelizwe promised, will be delivered to the residents by the community liaison officers and the community development workers during the next two weeks.

Residents were reminded to bring their green barcoded identification documents to claim their title deeds. One of the recipients, 70-year-old Tankiso Anna Sekula said she was very grateful to finally be in possession of her title deed.

“I am happy and extremely grateful. I got divorced almost 20 years ago and I feared that my children might be kicked out of the house when I died because I had to take back my maiden name after the divorce was finalised.

“Even though I do not have a lot to leave them, I know that my soul will rest in peace knowing that they have a roof over their head,” said Sekula.

Sekula said she received her home last year before winter, and thought that was the best feeling in the world, but having received her title deed is the best by far.

“I don’t know how to describe it. I feel complete, like all the years of struggling and begging for a place to sleep has finally come to an end. I would like to thank the Matjhabeng Local Municipality for this great deed.”

Recipients were urged to keep their title deeds safely and not be tempted to trade or rent them out to anyone.

Casino, dept of labour and FET College host career expo

As part of the company’s community outreach programme, the Goldfields Casino hosted their first annual career day in partnership with Goldfields FET College and the department of labour.

Grade 11 learners from four schools in Matjhabeng Local Municipality were invited to participate in the career expo. They are Welkom, Teto, Kutlwanong and Phehella High Schools. The learners were invited to learn about various career opportunities in the different departments of the Casinos as well as the subjects to take in order to pursue the identified careers.

Goldfields Casino human resources manager, Gene Moeketsi, said the expo was to show learners that the casino does not only offer entertainment and gambling but also has opportunities in another careers such as accounting, IT and hospitality.

“We have restaurants, entertainment, finance, human resource and other career opportunities that learners can target. We want to plough back to the community by employing local youth. We invite young people in the area to apply for the various positions available in the casino,” said Moeketsi.

He expressed satisfaction about the overwhelming response by the learners from the local schools to the expo.

An instructor at Goldfields FET College Kekeletso Mafeto said the institution was pleased to participate in the career day. He said the event gave the college an opportunity to inform learners about various courses it offers.

“It was quite intriguing to discover that many learners were interested in the hospitality and beauty industries. Most of them were under the impression that they would have to go out of Welkom in order to study these courses.

“We impressed upon them that Goldfields FET College has a wide variety of options for them to follow, and that we collaborate with various institutions to make their dreams a reality.”

Goldfields FET College offers the NCV course, which is specifically designed for people with a Grade 9 qualification and want to complete their matric.

“This is a three-year course that offers learners a chance to complete their matric and have a diploma or certificate in their chosen field at the end of the three years,” said Mafeto.

Department of labour’s public employment service officer, Sam Weyers, thanked Goldfields Casino for the career expo initiative.

“What most learners do not know is that a company is not a single entity but a chain of various careers. Learners should know that working at the casino does not only entail working as a chef, but they can aim to become a part of various other departments.”

Matjhabeng host human settlements Indaba

The national department of human settlements has set aside R150-million to build houses in towns falling under the Matjhabeng Local Municipality.

“Approximately R1.1-billion in this year’s budget speech, has been set aside to address housing challenges faced by people living in mining towns in the country, and as a mining town, R150-million has been set aside for the Matjhabeng Local Municipality Human Settlements Developments,” said chief director of the national department of human settlements, Julie Bayat.

Bayat, the Minister of Human Settlements, Connie September; the executive mayor of the Lejweleputswa District Municipality, Mathabo Leeto; and prominent business people in the Free State attended a two day Human Settlements Indaba to accelerate sustainable integrated human settlements in Matjhabeng, which was hosted by the Matjhabeng Local Municipality this week.

Bayat said the department is implementing a policy directive given by President Jacob Zuma during his 2013/14 state of the Nation address.

“The money had been set aside for the upgrading of 15 159 informal settlement sites as well as the erection of 9 755 new units across the country’s mining towns. The project is a joint effort in partnership with other departments such as the department of mineral resources, cooperative governance, labour as well as provincial human settlement departments.”

The executive mayor of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, said the indaba sought to find solutions to a variety of housing challenges including the recent illegal occupation of land between Welkom and Riebeeckstad.

“The objective of the Indaba will be amongst others to share with key interest groupings and individuals the municipality’s proposed plan on integrated human settlement and to lay the basis for the municipality to forge strategic partnerships with primary role players in the human settlement sector to enable the municipality to drive social and community development in its area of jurisdiction and to attract investment and contribute towards reviving the local economy.

“We are going to present to strategic partners our current and future plans regarding human settlements and planning specific focus on marketing potential land for business and residential development. Our plan will also accommodate finance linked individual subsidies, rental housing for low income earners and social housing: middle and high earners,” said Ngangelizwe.

According to Ngangelizwe, since 1996 banks were reluctant to finance houses in the area.

“This has changed. We will know which areas are available for development. We also want to stimulate economic growth in the municipality.”

He said a hostel with 300 beds is going to be built at the Welkom Campus of the Central University of Technology (CUT) in 2014.

Leeto hailed the Indaba was the first of its kind to be hosted in the Free State and praised the Matjhabeng Local Municipality for a pro-active approach instead of a reactive approach towards tackling housing challenges in the area.

“We are celebrating 20 years of democracy next year and we need to acknowledge that there has been significant improvement in service delivery. I am proud to be part of the Indaba. It means that different departments should start working together and implement together in order to get better results. Government should also create bylaws to restrict land invasion within municipalities.”

Mayors wins battle to house white residents

The relentless fight by Lejweleputswa District Municipality executive mayor, Mathabo Leeto and Matjhabeng Local Municipality executive mayor, Sebenzile Ngangelizwe, to give the poor white residents of Sewende Laan decent housing is bearing fruit.

Both Leeto and Ngangelizwe are members of the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC). Harmony Gold Mine has finally agreed to hand over the so-called Sewende Laan neighbourhood in Odendaalsrus near Welkom to the Matjhabeng Local Municipality.

The municipality will not be able to allocate the residents of the area permanent homes.

This poor white community of approximately 300 residents was discovered in May when the Lejweleputswa District Municipality visited underprivileged areas such as these in the region to donate food parcels and blankets to them.

Merely a day after the visit by the Lejweleputswa District Municipality, together with the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, almost half of Sewende Laan residents received eviction notices because they had threatened to expose the caretakers of the buildings they are renting for the abuse they had subjected them to.

The land occupied by Seventh Avenue, belonged to the city council. But the buildings were owned by the mine.

Leeto, vowed then to ensure that the property would be handed over to the municipality and that a full investigation was launched into the conduct of the caretakers.

“The day we donated the food and blankets, we realised that there was a number of challenges facing this community. People, who were already at their lowest, were being oppressed. We suspect that because we promised to do a door to door investigation to get to the bottom of the situation, the residents were kicked out in order to intimidate them.

“Following our visit we conducted a research and discovered that the land they were occupying belongs to Harmony Gold Mine. For the past two years, Elmarie Stubbe has been leasing the place from Harmony Gold and has been abusing poor people as she pleases,” said Leeto at the time.

One of the residents, Johan Burger, said Stubbe and her husband arrived two years ago at Sewende Laan. Since then residents have been physically, emotionally and verbally abused by the couple. Both of them are unemployed and receive disability grants.

Leeto said the municipalities’ long term plan is to get all of these people their own secure homes and promised to rope in Ngangelizwe, and premier Ace Magashule to identify sites where RDP houses can be built in the area.

“I believe that these people will always be taken advantage of. Therefore, in order for them to live in peace and harmony we will make sure that they receive their own houses.

We want to assure them and other disadvantaged white people as well as other minority groups in the province that the ANC government is a caring government and it offers services to all the people of the province and the country irrespective of the race, class and gender.

“I have no doubt that the provincial government led by premier Ace Magashule will intervene decisively in this matter and ensure that these people’s plight is addressed satisfactorily.

“As a leader, I know that Comrade Ace Magashule is passionate about making minorities feel home in the province,” added Leeto.

Matjhabeng celebrates heritage day

A cultural fashion show and an exhibition by the local small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME’s), with various genres of entertainments, was the way Matjhabeng Local Municipality celebrated Heritage day on Tuesday at the Goldfields Mall in Welkom.

The day was made possible for the second year by the Local Economic Development (LED) Department of Matjhabeng Local Municipality in partnership with the Goldfields Mall. “Our SMME’s have been complaining that their businesses are going under because of lack of exposure. During Heritage and Tourism month, our aim is to give a platform and necessary exposure to our local SMME’s.

“Every year we invite different local small business to come and exhibit their products in the mall. The festivities were opened with three local designers contributing their best African attire for a cultural fashion show.

“We would like to encourage Matjhabeng residents to get to know their local SMME’s, exchange numbers and support their local SMME’s before they support those from outside Matjhabeng,” explained Lebogang Kobue of the Matjhabeng local economic development (LED) department.

The marketing manager of the Goldfields Mall, Jo-Marie Tredoux, said the support from the community has significantly increased since last year’s exhibition. “I think this year everyone has a better understanding of what is expected of them and everyone is very eager to participate.

We live in a very culturally diverse city, and it is always a pleasure to celebrate our differences and get to know one another on a friendly and non-judgemental basis.” Local SMME’s exhibited their products at the Goldfields Mall until yesterday.

One of the invited SMME owners who participated in the exhibition, Alice Kgaje of Unique Designs, said it was a blessing to be part of this year’s Heritage celebrations.

“I didn’t even know the Municipality knew about my business. When they called to invite me, I was so surprised. I am very happy to have had my products on display and hope that this will attract enough attention in order for my business to grow.”