Cape Town – A group of five boys from Philippi have taken it upon themselves to fix potholes and clean illegal dumping sites in the area.
The idea was borne of the youngsters’ boredom as the national lockdown set in.
The boys said they were unimpressed with the road conditions in their township and decided to take action.
“What I do with my friends helps me a lot because it keeps me away from drugs and doing naughty things because most of my peers started getting into trouble during this lockdown because they had nothing to do,” 15-year-old Qhawe Matshaya said.
“The money we make from the street by fixing potholes and cleaning dumping sites we sometimes share among ourselves. I would take half of it and give it to my mother to buy the little we don’t have in the house.
“We sometimes would take ourselves out to KFC, or Steers but it depends on how much we have made that day.”
Qhawe said members of the group may stop working next month as they have to focus on school exams but those who wanted to continue would do so.
“We would be happy if the government could at least prioritise township service delivery because almost everything is damaged, including roads and other infrastructure that are for community use,” said Qhawe.
Thirteen-year-old Junior Mjiwa said he joined the group in June because he wanted to make a difference in his township.
“I want to make a change in my community even if it is a small change,” he said.
“The bad roads affect cars and cause traffic jams. We sometimes get insulted by vehicle drivers because they think we are robbers or we mess up the road not knowing that we are helping them.
“But there are those who buy us food, give us tips and encourage us to (continue) what we are doing. I now can buy myself some little stuff without even asking from my parents,” said Mjiwa.
The boys said they were not deterred by insults from drivers who thought they were possibly causing trouble, as their mission was to do good for their community.
Last week, driver Bongani Baleni from Samora Machel tipped the boys with R20 and said the youngsters were leading the government by example.
“It takes courage for such young children to engage themselves in such an initiative. It is an initiative that is developing the community.
“This is the government’s task but because these children could see that the government is taking long to deliver the services, they took it upon themselves.
“At the same time this will help them to avoid alcohol and drug abuse because some of their peers are already in jail or drug addicts.
“They have come up with a good idea especially during this period of Covid-19. It is something they should continue with even during the holidays, so that they can make money,” said Baleni.