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Mama Winnie’s neighbour recalls Zindzi Mandela’s days at Free State banishment home

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Staff Reporter

A woman who became a neighbour to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela when she was banished to the rural town of Brandfort in the Free State has described the late struggle icon’s daughter Zindziswa, who passed away Monday morning, as a friendly and loving person.

Nora Nomafa Moahlodi, 78, told The Free Stater by telephone that news of Zindzi’s passing had devastated her and all she could immediately do was to go through her photo collection and savour the fine moments she once shared with the Mandela family in Brandfort.

“When we heard . . . through the news this morning, the first thing was just to get some photos where they were celebrating Zindzi’s birthday,” Moahlodi said before letting a deep sigh as the sense of nostalgia was overwhelming her.

She was not sure how old Zindzi was turning at that birthday celebration but says she was in her 20s.

“Yes, I do remember Zindzi . . . She was a very lovely person. She liked people and she had friends here in Brandfort who used to visit her even though it was risky,” Moahlodi, a former teacher, said.

She recalled how some of Zindzi’s friends would later be picked up by members of the special police branch for breaking the law by interacting with the Mandela family.

“Mama Winnie used to cry saying she really felt bad that the children were being harassed because of her,” Moahlodi said.

“She would say ‘I am the only one involved in politics and no the children.’

“It was a very difficult time for the family but Zindzi also came across as a very strong person who was full of love.”

Zindzi arrived in the dusty Afrikaner-dominated town with her mother on May 16, 1977 when she as about 17 years old and the family was to live there until 1985.

The aim was to break her mother by dumping her in a place where she could not interact with anyone due to language barriers as she was Xhosa-speaking.

She was also told not to interact with the locals in the black township.

The residents, who mainly spoke mainly Sotho, Tswana and Afrikaans, were instructed not to talk to her.

The house that Zindzi lived in with her mother had no running water nor electricity.

Neither did it have floors nor ceilings.

Winnie, said Moahlodi, was never discouraged by that as she remained politically active and also set up community projects for the locals.

“People would defy police orders and go to House Number 802 because the whole community loved the family,” Moahlodi reminisced.

“Zindzi got along very well with other young people. We will definitely miss her because she kept in contact with us even after the passing of her mother.”

Moahlodi said even going to church was not easy for the family due to the restrictions and the church leaders had to be cautious.

“Zoleka (Zindzi’s daughter) and Zenani’s daughter were baptised here in my church, the Saint Mary’s Anglican Church, when they were here on holiday from Swaziland . . . but their records could not be kept at the church because the priest was afraid the police would find out,” she said.

She said after Madikizela-Mandela’s passing, the community gathered at their former house, which has now been turned into a heritage site, and released five doves to signify peace and the five wounds sustained by Jesus Christ on the cross and they later shared the visuals with Zindzi who she says appreciated it a lot.

Moahlodi said she was worried the Brandfort community might not be able to do something in memory of Zindzi due to the current restrictions on gatherings owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People have been coming to my house asking me what we could do, but I don’t know if there is anything we can do right now because we are not allowed to gather,” she said.

Zindzi was not able to complete her education while in Brandfort until she was sent to Swaziland.

She was appointed South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark in 2014 and had just returned home ahead of another posting when she fell ill on Sunday and had to be rushed to hospital.

The cause of her death is yet to be known.

Zindzi, at times controversial, was married twice and had four children – Zoleka, Zondwa, Bambatha and Zwelabo.

Her first husband was Zwelibanzi Hlongwane.

She then married Molapo Motlhajwa, a member of the South African National Defence Force, in March 2013.

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Parts of Free State may not have power for up to three weeks

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PROLONGED BLACKOUT LOOMS . . . Eskom says consumers in some parts of the Free State may not have electricity for up to three weeks

Eskom has warned consumers in the south-eastern Free State that they may not have electricity for up to three weeks due to voltage constraints on the network feeding the Melkspruit Substation.

The power failure resulted in electricity users in Zastron, Rouxville and Smithfield as well as those fed directly by Eskom on the RVZ and RVS 22 kV lines experiencing outages over the past weekend.

Eskom’s spokesperson in the Free State, Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg, said the problem may persist until major work on a line from the Northern Cape is completed.

“The voltage constraint on the network will persist until construction of structures on the Ruigtevallei-Valleydora 132 kV line in the Northern Cape is completed,” said Van Rensburg as she urged consumers to remain patient while the supply challenge is addressed.

“Free State teams are currently assisting to speed up the process. It is however expected that work will take two to three weeks to complete.”

“In the meantime, electricity users are urged to use electricity sparingly, especially during the morning and evening peak hours, to prevent trips,” she added.

South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts in recent weeks due to what Eskom has described a “continued shortage of generation capacity”.

On Sunday, the national power utility said in a separate statement it had about 3 028 megawatts on planned maintenance, while another 14 992 megawatts of capacity were unavailable due to breakdowns.

While the loadshedding is meant to ease pressure on the national grid and avoid a total collapse of the system, the practice has reportedly caused damage on some lines when power is switched back on.

Eskom has always said loadshedding is implemented only as a last resort to protect the national grid and promised to limit the implementation of loadshedding to the evening peak in order to limit the impact of the capacity shortages on the public. – Staff Reporter

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Minister shuts down troubled Free State water supplier

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MOVE GAZETTED . . . Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu has disestablished Sedibeng Water

Staff and key assets from the embattled Sedibeng Water Board are set to be transferred to the Bloemwater and Magalies water boards following the gazetting of the move by Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu last week.

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said in a statement the development is in line with the minister’s commitment to review the country’s water boards to enable them to perform optimally while enhancing the delivery of water to municipalities and ultimately to households.

The decision to disestablish Sedibeng Water – which served Matjhabeng, Masilonyana and Nala local municipalities, among others – means its staff, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Bloemwater in the Free State and Magalies in Gauteng.

The move, according to Ratau, was initiated by the minister following his working sessions with provincial governments, various water services authorities and water boards regarding issues of governance, financial viability as well as accountability and broader service delivery issues after taking office in August last year.

“The review is based on considerations of financial sustainability, servicing areas that are not currently serviced and is also intended to address institutional confusion caused by having multiple water boards serving the same area,” said Ratau.

“The disestablishment of Sedibeng Water is in accordance with section 28 of the Water Services Act of 1997 which affords Minister Mchunu the authority to disestablish a water board.

“The gazette was published on Friday, 20 May 2022 and will remain open to the public for a period of 40 days.

“Members of the public and all interested parties are invited to make comments in writing on the disestablishment of the board.”

The department said it will ensure there is smooth transition of the disestablishment and that water service provision to communities is not affected.

Based in Bothaville, Sedibeng Water was established to, among others, treat wastewater and supply potable water in a viabile and sustainable manner.

However, in recent years, some of the municipalities served by the water board have struggled over the years to pay on time for the bulk water supplies even though residents have argued that they pay their monthly bills on time.

At the end of March this year, Sedibeng reportedly owed its service providers over R5-billion as it was struggling to secure payment from several municipalities. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung warns residents to brace for heavy rainfall

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DISRUPTIVE DOWNPOUR LOOMING . . . Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned heavy rainfall is expected to pound the capital

The Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has warned residents in and around the Free State capital to brace for heavy rainfall that could cause flooding this Friday.

The municipality is urging drivers to take extra caution by reducing speed and switching their headlights on, while pedestrians are being reminded to be careful when crossing the road and to avoid crossing rivers and streams where water is above the ankles.

“Residents of Mangaung Metro, particularly in the former Naledi region, are urged to be cautious on the road and in their homes as the South African Weather Service has issued an impact-based warning . . . for possible disruptive rainfall,” the metro said in a statement.

“This warning is valid for Friday, 20 May 2022 until Saturday, 21 May 2022.”

“Heavy rains are also predicted in Bloemfontein on Friday,” it added.

“Localised flooding can be expected in susceptible low-lying areas, roads, formal/informal settlements and bridges.” – Staff Reporter

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