SA jails in a better condition than Alex hostels - Mashaba

Naledi Shange, News24

Johannesburg - An English-speaking Herman Mashaba on Wednesday tried to interact with hostel-dwellers in the Alexandra township.

Flanked by about 30 Democratic Alliance members, the party’s Johannesburg mayoral candidate assured one man that he understood what he was saying, despite the language barrier between them.

"You will have to forgive me, but my Zulu is not that good," Mashaba laughed as he addressed the hostel dweller clad in gumboots and a blue overall.

It was the same when Sipho Mwelase, the hostel Induna and staunch Zulu-speaker, communicated with Mashaba.

He took Mashaba on a tour of the hostel. The passages were dark and dingy and the smell of urine lingered in the air.

In one communal kitchen, a group of men were cutting up cows. The cow heads were on the floor while other parts were being washed in the sink.

Children, some of kindergarten age, played in the passages.
Mwelase led Mashaba, dressed in a brown sun hat, a shirt, and tie, and his DA members to his room.

The door was in a dark, narrow, passage. He struggled to find the key to open it. A journalist helped him with the light of a cellphone.

After he had welcomed the delegation in, he pointed at the cracks in the wall which brought in large amounts of water whenever it rained.

He chuckled as he saw the media focusing on a large IFP banner that had a picture of party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi on it.

Afterwards, Mashaba said he was disturbed by what he said were sub-human living conditions. He said the DA would bring engineers to see what could be done.

"Looking at some of the jails I have visited in this country, people in this hostel live worse lives than people in our jails today."

Mashaba had been canvassing support in several townships after the DA announced him as its mayoral candidate.