Impromptu Meeting with Dawie


On the morning of 12 November 2012 we went to Langrug as usual and were told by the working team that they had held a general meeting on Sunday to discuss moving forward with the MPC. Trevor allegedly ran the meeting, and a strict timeline for the MPC was discussed with the community. This conversation instilled a sense of urgency among all of us, and we found it imperative that we meet with Dawie as soon as possible to discuss the matter at hand.

Cast of Characters

WPI team, Johru, David


Dept. of Informal Settlements, Municipality of Stellenbosch


After a brief discussion with Joey about the likelihood of the MPC implementation, we met with Dawie briefly in the conference room. We told him how the working team had suddenly restricted the project to a strict timeline and how they felt threatened by the community. We asked Dawie his opinion on whether the working team truly is in danger from the community if the MPC is not implemented, but he said he is not phased by those threats.

He went on to explain that his department spends approximately 80-90% of its budget on projects in Langrug (paying the working team R80/day, toilet maintenance, greywater maintenance, road construction, etc). Meanwhile, there are over fifteen other settlements in the Stellenbosch Municipality that they do not have the funds or manpower to pay as much attention to. This makes it difficult for the financial board to approve something as extraneous as an MPC, especially when the toilet to family ratio is still a third of what it should be. That being said, an MPC would be wonderful to motivate and revamp the Langrug community, but it is not something that the Municipality can budget for in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Dawie went on to explain how there is a sense of entitlement felt throughout most of the settlements and in South Africa in general. He said that it is a difficult phenomenon to work with because people expect so much while contributing so little.


As short and impromptu as this meeting was, it was a turning point in our views of the MPC project. When we work in the settlement, it is easy to get tunnel vision and forget that there are other stakeholders besides the community. Every day that we are in Langrug, we hear the working group talk about how the community threatens to burn the Wendy House if something isn’t implemented soon, but then the working group doesn’t make much of an effort to amplify the project’s momentum.

We as a team have begun to feel frustrated with the working group’s (and the community’s) lackluster effort and constant complaining. Our meeting with Dawie accentuated this feeling; it is so easy to forget that there are other communities far worse off than Langrug that the Municipality is also responsible for. There were moments when some of us were thinking that the Langrug community does not even deserve the MPC at this point. We see how little effort they are putting into this project and how unwilling they are to contribute even labour, and it makes it difficult to sympathize with them. It is easy to forget that the Municipality does not have unlimited funds and that they must prioritise how they spend their money. After this meeting, we were hesitant in pushing the partnership to provide the funds for this project and were, generally, disheartened about the state of the community in Langrug.