Despatch and Motherwell : restoration of water supply

The water supply to most areas of Despatch and Motherwell is currently interrupted. The Municipality wishes to assure affected residents that it is hard at work at restoring the supply. Motherwell residents can expect their supply to be restored around lunchtime, while supply to the residents of Despatch will be restored later this afternoon. Water tankers have been provided at strategic points.
For more information, please contact Ms Marthie Nel at  082 780 3108, or  0800 20 5050. Residents of Despatch may also contact the Despatch Councillor, Cllr Francois Greyling, at  041 933 1469.
The Municipality regrets the inconvenience caused to consumers.


Issued on behalf of the Municipality by the Acting Communications Director, Ms Marthie Nel, at  0827803108

KwaNobuhle farm taking off

by Sipho Masondo HERALD REPORTER

Uitenhage KwaNobuhle farmersTHERE is a sweet smell of success about a project in Uitenhage that was started to help alleviate the misery of a group of impoverished people – it is now helping to add flavour to German cuisine

While many farms have failed under the government‘s land reform programme, the Uitenhage-KwaNobuhle Farm community project is providing shelter, food and a steady income for its 55 beneficiaries.

Administrative manager Mlamleli Maseti said failure was not an option for the group.

Besides supplying Port Elizabeth export company Dynamic Commodities with sweet baby peppers, the beneficiaries pride themselves on having developed the 38ha farm into a productive operation.

They supply retailers like the Fruit and Veg and Spar groups, BC Brothers and the Uitenhage and Motherwell markets, as well as hawkers, with fresh vegetables like cabbage, spinach, carrots, green beans and beetroot.

Maseti said the secret to making the farm work was listening to the people. “You can‘t make it without the people. When we started in early 2003 the land was bare. There will always be ups and downs where many people are involved because they bring different minds and backgrounds. But we constantly remind them about the purpose of coming together. It‘s about teamwork and having a good support system.”

Maseti said Dynamic Commodities supplied the farm with sweet baby pepper seedlings, which are planted on 10ha. “The produce that we export is huge and the profit is very good. We get about R4 for 1kg, and we are looking at more than 15 tons a hectare. The sweet baby peppers are ripe and we started harvesting last week. This is agriculture and we do experience ups and downs, but generally we are doing well.”

However, he said the crop had not done quite as well last year, when it was piloted for the first time on 5ha after they had entered into an agreement with Dynamic Commodities.

“It was trial and error last year. In the end we managed to break even – we made a little profit. We made mistakes but we have learned.”

Maseti said the farm employed about 50 permanent staff, which escalated to more than 200 people during harvesting season.

He said the farm‘s success was due to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which leases the land to the group, and to other role players like the Uitenhage-Dispatch Development Initiative, VWSA and the Eastern Cape agriculture department, which assisted in various ways.

VWSA donated about R3- million, which the farm accesses in stages. The agriculture department assisted with farming implements, including a tractor, fencing and irrigation infrastructure, while UDDI provided project management expertise.

UDDI project manager Sandile Adam said the farm was divided into two phases. The 20ha first phase is for conventional farming of vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, sweet baby peppers, spinach and beetroot, under drip irrigation.

Phase2 involves organic and greenhouse farming. “We will have high-value crops like tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses on about 18ha. We are already putting up fencing and irrigation systems.”

Hostage drama accused wanted to ‘sort things out’ after affair rumours

A MOTHERWELL hostage-taker yesterday claimed in the magistrate‘s court that he had gone to the house of the victims to “sort things out” with his girlfriend after he heard allegations of an affair.

Xola Stanley Zembethe, 36, faces charges of kidnapping and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition stemming from a tense 16-hour standoff between him and a police contingent.

The drama unfolded on February 16 in Ndlovu Street, where Zembethe allegedly took hostage his girlfriend‘s sister, Nompumelelo Myali, her year-old son Lisa, another son, Mafixole, 19, and a relative, Simphiwe Wilskuit, 23.

Zembethe, of Uitenhage, and his girlfriend, Bulelwa Jack, were embroiled in counter accusations of cheating on each other, the court heard.

During a bail hearing yesterday, Zembethe said he would plead not guilty to the charges when the matter went to trial. He insisted on conducting his own defence.

He said that after he had arrived in Motherwell from Cape Town that morning, he had wanted to set the record straight regarding rumours that he had cheated on Jack. “Prior to this, I received a phone call saying I must not accuse her of cheating because I was also having an affair. They also accused me of having killed my mother and children. I said, ‘I will deal with you when I arrive in Port Elizabeth because of false allegations‘,” said Zembethe.

Shortly after his arrival at the house, four occupants were held hostage, allegedly by Zembethe, and threatened with a firearm.

Two shots were fired. A firearm was allegedly taken from Zembethe after the incident. He claimed he had found it on a Jeffreys Bay beach in December.

Zembethe refuted claims by the state that he had a tendency to watch hostage-drama films.

Investigating officer Inspector Monde Sithole testified that Zembethe had demanded Myali call her husband, Simphiwe, and tell him to bring Jack from Despatch.

Asked why he wanted to be released on bail, he said he was responsible for his 13-year-old child, he was required to perform elder duties in the Presbyterian Church of Africa and he was also the co-ordinator of an HIV/Aids project

The matter was postponed to March 19 for the investigating officer to verify Zembethe‘s previous convictions. The state alleges he has several previous convictions, including car theft and armed robbery.

He has two pending case involving shoplifting and arson.

source: The Weekend Post

Bus plan thrown into disarray

Sbongile Dimbaza and Mawande Jack HERALD REPORTERS

CONSTRUCTION of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Nelson Mandela Bay has been thrown into disarray following new demands by taxi associations.

Operators want the project to be completely redesigned to allow taxis free reign in the city and that new bus lanes be built in certain areas, including Uitenhage and Motherwell.

The transport system, which is a national project and a Fifa prerequisite for all cities hosting World Cup matches next year, has been the cause of a series of transport strikes that have crippled the city during the past four months.

Last week, taxi associations called off the strike after the municipality agreed to negotiate on a possible redesign of the BRT system.

The radical new demands follow a meeting between the municipality and taxi associations on Monday, at which they presented a redesigned plan.

A dedicated BRT committee has until March 2 to study its impact.

Any change of plan is bound to further delay the key 2010 project, which is already behind schedule.

The taxi industry wants both bus and taxi operators to have equal access to BRT infrastructure in the central business district (CBD).

The associations also oppose the idea that they be “feeders” to buses.

Port Elizabeth and District Taxi Association chairman Melekile Hani said they had also suggested that dedicated bus lanes be incorporated in the plan for areas like Motherwell, Uitenhage, Stanford Road and Kempston Road to curb congestion.

“But nothing much was discussed regarding the regulation of the industry and other key areas we are in opposition to. The municipality has agreed to pay, on our behalf, for the drawing up of a business and operational plan.”

Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron confirmed the taxi bodies had submitted their report, but alterations could always be integrated into the current BRT plan. “If the situation constitutes that extra manpower should be brought in to meet the deadline, we will do exactly that.”

However, the municipality could not say when the project would be completed or how far behind schedule it was.

On Monday night, taxi representatives faced the wrath of residents at a meeting organised by the SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco).

Taxi operators were grilled and forced to publicly apologise by angry Motherwell residents for the hardships caused to commuters during last week‘s strike.

Some even insisted Hani be called to the meeting to be reprimanded.

Transport was disrupted and two clinics in Motherwell were also destroyed by fire during the strike.

A Motherwell community leader, Mxolisi Mani, insisted that the taxi representatives give the public reasons for the destruction of their facilities.

“Why must it be us the people who suffer?” he asked. “Why, each time there is a taxi strike, must it be the poor people who are the victims?”

The meeting, attended by councillors, political parties and civic bodies, saw sparks fly as residents threatened to boycott the taxi industry, which they described as being “infiltrated by thugs”.

The situation, which could have got out of hand, was saved by the arrival of councillor Fikile Desi, who urged the residents to “also understand the plight facing the taxi operators, who see the BRT as a means of forcing them out business”.

“Taxi operators are asking for forgiveness. They did that by cutting last Friday‘s taxi fares by half. We should instead say that the next time there is a strike, we should be consulted and that we do not want to see any violence,” Desi said.

Sanco chairman Toni Duba moved the attention of the residents away from the taxi drivers to mayor Nondumiso Maphazi, who he said had failed to attend the meeting although she had been invited.

“We wanted the mayor to come and address the residents. All the problems surrounding the whole BRT system have been caused by her,” said Duba.

In Johannesburg, Transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs said the BRT system would be introduced in Gauteng in time for the Confederations Cup kick-off in Johannesburg on June 14, despite opposition from taxi owners.

Jacobs said taxi owners had been included in the BRT planing process with the City of Johannesburg for the past two years.

“Now, at the stage of implementation, they are asking us to hold on?”

source The Herald