Fed-up residents take unemployment frustrations to the streets

Enraged Westbury residents took to the streets on Monday to voice their anger against the newly signed Employment Equity Act.

Attended by more than 500 people, the marchers knocked on the doors of surrounding businesses while raising their begging bowls and armed with five memorandums that sought the authorities to address unemployment in coloured areas around Johannesburg.

The marchers, led by Bishop Dalton Adams of the COJ Pentecostal Church, gave the business owners and authorities 14 days to respond to their grievances.

Sadick Sallie and Bishop Dalton Adams/Thendo Luruli

The Simunye Opportunity Centre, The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) in the area, the Technology Driven Concepts facility, SA Police Service, Shoprite, Checkers, Helen Joseph Hospital, and the Rahima Moosa Hospital were some of the places visited by the marchers in a peaceful protest.

Unemployment rate/Thendo Luruli

“The premier [of Gauteng] Panyaza Lesufi has highlighted that the coloured people are the most marginalised in South Africa, the government is aware of what they are doing to coloured people,” said Adams.

“The unemployment rates are reaching uncontrollable levels, and the social ills and unemployment have led the youth of Westbury to ‘spien’ [sell drugs or become gangsters]. You find them owning [the street] corners where they deal in drugs.

“I want to make it clear that the dealing in drugs is orchestrated by [someone] high up in power. We are saying that the sub-culture of drugs, killings and gangsterism are as a result of our youth not getting employment opportunities.”

The march took place amid the ongoing gang violence and drug-related killings in the area.

On Friday, a 12-year-old girl was shot dead in Westbury when she was caught in the cross fire. Identified as Jaan Fourie, the girl was laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery on Sunday.

“Just the other day, a 12-year-old girl was shot and killed in this area. We will head to the Sophiatown police station at the end of our march where we will hand over a very strong memorandum,” Adams told Sunday World.

He appealed to the Gauteng provincial government not to allow the Employment Equity Act to see the light of day, saying it will be last straw to break the camel’s back.

“The coloured youth should not be robbed of jobs because the president signed a new Employment Equity Act that excludes them.”

Speaking to Sunday World during the march, Bradley Sauls said: “This new bill that was signed by the president concerns me. My children are still in school and this bill will later disadvantage our children. It has prompted us to come out to the streets and demand answers from government.”

A 51-year-old mother of three who did not want to be identified said: “I am very disgusted with the government, we [the coloured community] have been excluded from participating in the economy of this country despite our people being skilled. There are many businesses around Westbury, but our children are robbed of opportunities [to work].”

Another marcher who also chose to remain anonymous added: “My 24-year-old son was training with the JMPD for nine months, however, the training suddenly came to a standstill.

“They [the trainees] later discovered that there were new recruits and none of them were coloured candidates. The children are now sitting at home.”

A 26-year-old unemployed woman told Sunday World that she has become discouraged to look for a job, saying she has applied at the Simunye Opportunity Centre and applied for JMPD learnerships for the past two years without success.

“I have a diploma in nursing and patient care and I have been unemployed for the past two years,” said another marcher. “I graduated in 2021, however, my job applications are being ignored.”


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