Three years ago, Cape Town backyard dwellers occupied a vacant piece of privately-owned land and named it Marikana, in solidarity with the miners who were killed at Lonmin mine. The area has grown since, despite residents having been evicted several times by the City of Cape Town. With local elections around the corner, we asked Marikana residents if they felt voting in the last elections made a difference and if they will be voting in the upcoming elections.
“I was shocked by electricity and I thank God I’m alive”
“I voted in the last elections because I felt like it’s a norm and a must. I will definitely vote in the upcoming municipal elections. However, I would love for government to give us legally connected electricity because we have illegal connections and we are aware of the dangers. I was shocked by electricity, and I thank God I’m alive because some have died due to this.” Lizo Njomba (27), co-owner of a barber shop in Marikana.
“I do see change, but far from me”
‘’I did vote in the last election since it’s a right given to me. I had that hope that things would change. I do see change, but far from me. I’m aware that it’s still going to take time for all our needs to be met, but what I wish to see at the moment is mobile clinics, skills development programmes for our youth and sporting facilities. I have started soccer teams just to keep the youth from negative engagements like alcohol and drugs but these initiatives need funding and that’s where we are lacking.’’ – Elius Mountain (32), co-owner of a barber shop. He also repairs phones and is a local DJ.
“I want that sticker on my identity book in case a potential employer asks if I took part in the elections”
“I grew up being told that if you do not vote you won’t be included in government service delivery like getting a job, government grants and housing. That pushed me to vote. I did vote in the last elections, and I will vote again in the upcoming elections. I’m currently looking for a job and I want that sticker on my identity book in case a potential employer asks if I took part in the elections. I know it’s too soon to wish for services here at Marikana since it’s a new community. At the moment we have water, electricity (obtained illegally) and toilets are being built, so I’m not complaining for now.” – Mkhuseli Nqwenani (27), who is unemployed and has been living in Marikana for just over a year.
“I have a bursary today and studying at tertiary due to the freedom they fought for”
“I can’t wait to vote. I will vote for the ANC because I have a bursary today and studying at tertiary due to the freedom they fought for, for our black people. Most people get government grants and other free services like public clinics due to this party. Voting for them is a form of saying thank you. What I wish to see here at Marikana is safe electricity and flushing toilets not the pota-pota toilets.” – Eziswa Thembeni (23), a student at Cape College.
*Eziswa refused to be photographed.
“I was in jail and being free has taught me to appreciate the freedom of being out of prison”
“I will participate in the upcoming municipal elections because I was in jail, and being free has taught me to appreciate the freedom of being outside the prison doors. This freedom includes going to the voting station and voting for the party I like. One thing that I would love to see here at Marikana is the collection of rubbish by the government because there’s dirt all over and that’s unhealthy, especially for the children, who end up playing with it.” – Yanga Vuntu (21), a mechanic who runs his own small mechanic business.
All images: Onele Liwani