'Thumbs up for service delivery’



Published May 25, 2024


Shakaskraal residents have given service delivery in their area the thumbs-up, thanks to the open communication with their councillor.

Before 2016, residents claimed the small town had a high crime rate and poor service delivery. But this changed after Doeshiee Govender was voted into office in the same year.

Govender, 59, a former businessman, is the ward 28 councillor for the General Gezenga Mpanza region.

The state of disrepair and filth in Shakaskraal prompted Govender to take up politics in 2010.

“When one takes up a position of servicem they must be available to the people. Today we are a model ward in KwaZulu-Natal. When I became the local councillor, murders, rapes, housebreakings and robberies were on the increase. I got into contact with the 60 business owners in our CBD and asked them to fund the salaries of a team of patrollers, we now call the Black Ants.

“We picked out about 25 unemployed people from the community and trained them in security. They assisted with patrols during the day and at times in the residential area. We also have an active community policing forum (CPF). This has brought the crime rate right down.”

He said Shakaskraal had a 15% unemployment rate.

“Working with the municipality, I send the youth for skills development programmes for them to improve themselves. The municipality had retail stores coming on board to train the youth in-store as sales consultants and offer them employment.”

Govender said he had also met with local sand-mining companies and had asked them to employ youth from the community.

“When residents report on non-functioning street lights, potholes, storm-water drain issues and illegal dumping, I act on it immediately. Residents are always able to get in touch with me, and I am in constant contact with the municipality to ensure service delivery problems are addressed speedily.”

He said there was zero tolerance for illegal dumping and those responsible received harsh fines.

Govender had also aided in the building and opening of the community’s first community hall.

“I am not here for any position. I am just happy that I can serve the people of Shakaskraal.”

Cindy Subban said Govender had created unity in the community.

“Through this unity we managed to resolve all our service delivery problems and issues relating to crime. During Covid-19, our councillor worked with the NPO Shakaskraal Helping Hands to do food distributions, provide oxygen tanks and medication to those in need. My husband was assisted with an oxygen tank.”

Subban said during the floods in January, Govender helped find shelter for people whose homes had been damaged.

“We recently had a water shortage and he ensured the water tankers serviced us daily. Drinking water was also given to residents through donations from businesses. Govender is someone you can count on. We feel he spends more time with the residents than he does his own family.”

Lilly Kisun said in the past their roads had potholes, street lights did not work, crimes like murder and house robberies were on the rise and residents did not feel safe.

“When our councillor took over we saw the change. He is available 24/7 and has rolled out a lot of programmes to help us.”

Ashwin Latchaman said: “The town is a success because of the open communication lines with all the stakeholders. And the residents have access to officials in the KwaDukuza Municipality.”

Mali Pillay said she finally felt safe.

“Previously, we could not sleep at night because we were terrified of the break-ins and robberies. Now we have patrols and I feel safe. Our area is also very clean and neat. It is such a pleasant sight compared to the surrounding areas.”

Selvey Azarath said she lived in the community for 40 years.

“Our roads had potholes, the grass was not cut on time and robberies were happening almost daily. Our area was in a state of hopelessness but we started to work with the councillor to get things back on track.”

Sagie Naidoo, chairperson of Shakaskraal Helping Hands, said the organisation was formed seven years ago with the help of councillor Govender.

Naidoo said the Black Ants patrolled the CBD to ensure no drug addicts or criminals roamed the streets, robbing people.

“The CPF is on patrol in the evenings to ensure those returning home from work are safe,” he said.