ANC’s Senior campaign officials were on Friday 17th of June embarrassed by the Mamelodi residents who refused to be spoken to until the bigwigs explained the non-availability of trains at the Pienaarspoort station.
The ANC officials including the party’s head of election campaigns Nomvula Mokonyane had their campaign programme interrupted by residents of Mamelodi who wanted the party and Prasa senior manager Tony Games to deal with the unreliability of Metrorail trains in a section of their community.
“Minister, these people at Prasa have been stealing from us for years. We buy monthly tickets but we don’t see the trains. Are we taken advantage of because we are poor and uneducated?” Mamelodi resident Johannes Tlape shouted as hundreds of frustrated community members quickly gathered around the ANC officials, seeking an intervention on the non-availability of trains.
ANC’s Mokonyane was there present at the Pienaarspoort Train Station alongside Tshwane Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, ANC regional chairperson. They were there to canvass for support ahead of the August 3 local government elections but met an unfavorable situation.
Speaking on the unfavorable campaign situation, Mokonyane who was scolding a bunch of ANC campaign fliers, said she was “embarrassed” to be campaigning under the current state of affairs. She then took Prasa senior manager, Tony Games, to task over the train crisis.
She called on several other officials, including Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, to urgently tackle the problem of train delays.
“If you have problems with your trains, then why don’t you make alternative arrangements for these people? Buses should be transporting these people at your cost. Now people blame [mayor] Ramokgopa for the trains,” she sadly said.
Some community members said they were now optimistic that the year-in year-out problems of poor rail services would be resolved.
A woman who could not bear the pains within her shouted: “Nobody seems to care about us. We are trying to work for our families, but Metrorail is robbing us” while many others in the angry crowd held up weekly and monthly train tickets.
“Where are we supposed to relieve ourselves? On the rails? Prasa treats us as beggars,” an elderly woman from the crowd lamented while Nobuhle Mpansi, who works at a supermarket in Pretoria, added her voice to the chorus:
“We cannot vote when we do not have jobs. Each day we gather at this station with our monthly tickets, but we don’t see the trains. Prasa is stealing from us and there is no explanation.
“We risk our lives coming to this station every day but we don’t get the trains. This has been happening for years. These Prasa people are thieves. I am going to lose my job if I don’t go to work today.”
Mokonyane and Ramokgopa were forced to put their campaign program for the day on hold and to discuss the rail system problems.
Moments later, just before 9am, a train pulled into the station. The commuters scurried for the train and the ANC bigwigs started their door-to-door campaign programme.