A closer look at some of the issues affecting residents of Orange Farm in Gauteng.

A week after the tragedy that took the lives of five of their children, the Magagula family, in Orange Farm, Gauteng is trying to get on with their lives best they can. 

Neighbours who come to offer support are welcomed warmly. Two other children who survived the fire, play with others in the community around them.

"We still have not received any counselling but we are fine. I think God counselled me" says Nthabiseng Magagula, the mother of the four-year-old-child who died when the shack behind their two bedroom RDP house was burned down.

Mduduzi (4), Nkululeko (6), Tshepo (7), Busisiwe (8) and Lillian Magagula (17), lost their lives on August 9, when a fire burned down the shack they were in. 

Magagula says the accident is still a shock but she is doing well. Two days after the funeral, she had already managed to gather uTeenage pregnancy:When young people are set up to failp the strength to clean up the rubble that remained when the shack burned down. Magagula says that the amount of support they received from their community, government and others was overwhelming and helped them get through the terrible situation.

"Faith Mazibuko (MEC of Community Safety in Gauteng), was here every day until the funeral. On the day of the funeral, many from the community came to support us,” says Magagula.

Though they appreciate all the support they received, Magagula says it was the support of the Orange Farm community, the people whom they know and live with, that moved them.

Finding hope through helping others

The Magagulas live in Extension 6, of Orange Farm, a township located about 45 km south of Johannesburg.  It has a population of about 400 000.  The township derives its name from the citrus farms that were located in that area prior to 1989. Orange Farm was established in the late 1980s when apartheid segregation laws began to fall away and people could move closer to the city.  According to the City of Joburg, Region G, which Orange Farm is a part of, is made up mostly of young people and has an unemployment rate of over 70%.

Even though there is development and job opportunities are created every year, unemployment rates continue to be high because of pupils who graduate and cannot further their studies or find work. 

Some of the unemployed young people have turned to volunteerism to help not only themselves but the community they live in.

"This is our community, we want to make a change."

A community volunteer in Orange Farm 

"We are the ones who know this community, we are the ones in the best position to help," says Petros Hlatswayo. He is part of the Community Works Programme (CWP), which was introduced by the Department of Public Works to occupy young people while they are looking for employment.

CWP brings together young people who go out into the community to offer a variety of services. These include identifying the poorest so they can be given food and other supplies; and providing education and support in relation to domestic abuse, drug addiction and teenage pregnancies.

The young volunteers say these are the social ills crippling their community. They know this first hand.

Andile Lefera, one of the volunteers, was doing his grade 11 when his girlfriend fell pregnant.

“I told myself that I had to leave school so I could work to support my child.”

He dropped out of school in 2013, at the age of 19. He tried getting a job as a stock taker for one of the national supermarkets but was unsuccessful. Too embarrassed to be in the same classroom with pupils much younger than him, he decided not to go back to school.

For now, he volunteers with CWP but he knows he must start earning money.

“I want to work so I can save money and enrol for a hospitality course,” he says.

For others, the developments in the area have created employment. The township's main shopping centre, Eyethu Mall, is estimated to have cost R400 million to build. The mall started operations last year. It is located in Extension 2,  a central area in the the township and is next to the police station, clinic, fire station, community centre and park.

Close to the mall is also a the community park where the community's children can play and adults can exercise. In the evenings the park is filled with colour, and laughter from children the children playing there. 

Behind the mall however, the situation is different. 

When cloud nine costs everything

In the quiet area behind Eyethu Mall, nyaope addicts have created a home for themselves where they can spend the entire day smoking the drug without any disturbance.Those whose families still allow them to live at home come there first thing in the morning. The others live behind the mall.  

The area is filled with the smell of cigarette, dagga and nyaope smoke. Though standing, some of the addicts have their eyes half open as if they are falling asleep. Others are squatting around a young man who is trying to determine if he has put the same amount of Nyaope in the two syringes he is holding.

The group of about 15 addicts is made mainly of men but there are a few women present.

Moipone Mofokeng (25) is one of the women. Mofokeng started smoking nyaope at High school, seven years ago because she was "bored". At first she would only smoke the drug every now and then but within a few months, all she thought about and cared about was nyaope. She managed to finish her matric but her marks were dismal. Now she spends her day either smoking the drug or stealing to get money.

“I spend about R200 on drugs in a day. I make that money by shoplifting,” says Mofokeng.

Now she lives with her boyfriend who is also a nyaope addict. Mofokeng says she tried going to rehab once but her grandmother passed away and she went back to the drug as a coping mechanism. She says she wants to quit and find a job as a call centre agent. 

Like Mofokeng, many of the other nyaope addicts say they want out.

Sithembiso "Gap" Dube, the young man measuring nyaope inside syringes says he he is desperate for anyone to help him. He wrote the letter below as a plea for help.

It would appear that the presence of the nyaope addicts behind the mall has added to the crime incidents in the area. Many of them, like Mofokeng, admit to shoplifting at the different stores in the mall or stealing from those who have come to shop there.

According to Crime Stats SA, Orange Farm is one of the top ten areas in Gauteng with high drug-related crime. As seen in the graph below, drug-related crime incidences increased over 500% from 2011 to 2014.

Orange Farm is also one of the top ten areas in the province for high rates of assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. To help combat the high crime rate, there is the Orange Farm Community Policing Forum (CPF), which has about 50 volunteers patrolling the streets day and night.

Below John Nkosi gives more detail on the CPF and the impact it has had on the community, including the arrest of a man who was later convicted of rape and murder, and sentenced to 245 years in prison.

CPF volunteers work five days a week for four hours; they meet in hotspot areas. The patrollers themselves do not carry any weapons, they go out with police officers for their own safety.

Thembeka Mazabelana (27), is one of the patrollers, she says she rarely ever feels afraid on job. "I want to be the change I want to see in my community," she says.

As with the CWP, many of the CPF's volunteers are young people.

One of the program leaders who did not want to be identified for fear of losing his job says even though the young people are eager to help, they are often frustrated because they want more.

"They want jobs, permanent jobs with real benefits. They want something that is sustainable," says the leader.

Lefera agrees. To fulfill his dreams of working in the hospitality sector he has to study; to study he needs money. Like many others, he is willing to work hard to earn that money, he just wants a chance. 

By Mamaponya Motsai and Sylvia Mbiti