LEPHALALE — Mathlakung, the informal settlement behind the Ellisras Provincial Hospital, has a bad reputation for crime and other social ills. However, there are ordinary people trying to make an honest living in Mathlakung (also known as Plastic View).
Many inhabitants from Steenbokpan, Abbotspoort, Bangalong and even Steilloop, live there due to high rent, long travel times and scarcity of work. They work in town during the week and travel home over some weekends if possible.
Living in Mathlakung was originally a temporary and unplanned solution to being nearer to town hence there is no rhythm or rhyme to the placements of shacks.
In the immigrant section shacks are stacked almost on top of each other, while shacks in the “local” section have a little more space and a tree or two to protect them against the sun. There are no ablution facilities and only a few taps provide water.
Despite these dire circumstances, people are still trying to come up with strategies to better their lives.
The Itireleng group (loosely translated it means “we do it for ourselves”) was recently formed and started a recycling project. “We understand that this is a way for us to help look after our environment, make a little money and clean up our area,” says Cate Ndubane, convenor of the group.
Elana Greyling, part of the CCL (Concerned Citizens of Lephalale) spoke to them about some environmental issues and they all partook in a cooking workshop where Cinnamon dumplings were made on a gas stove in front of Cate’s zinc hut.
“We don’t have time to wait for the mercy of other people. We must do it for ourselves and teach these lessons to our children,” says Cate.