President Jacob Zuma received mixed reactions to his walkabout in Marabastad, Pretoria, on Monday as some people screamed and waved while others complained that he was causing traffic congestion.
Most people took out their phones to get a snap of him, while others wanted to shake his hand.
Some were not too happy with his presence, saying they could not move freely and do their work.
While visiting stalls and talking to people, a small group of women sitting in a gazebo called him a “yellow bone”, a reference given to people who are light in complexion.
“Where is he? I can’t see him,” said one of woman. “There he is, in the middle, the ‘yellowbone’ surrounded by the police,” responded another.
There was a heavy police presence as Zuma walked around and waved at people, while occasionally stopping to talk to a few people. Others said they could not speak to him as his security personnel were pushing them out of the way.
One woman had a chance to speak to Zuma and called on him to address the issues of crime and drugs in the area.
“Mr President, our children have been turned into drug addicts and people are being mugged here,” one hawker told Zuma.
“We need help to resolve this problem so that we can be able to work here.”
Zuma was doing a walk-about in the area to hear people’s problems. Hundreds of people waved and greeted him as he interacted with the crowds.
He said he was visiting the area to hear what people wanted him to say during his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
‘Nyaope and crime are our biggest challenges’
David Rabodiba was excited to shake Zuma’s hand. He said he told the president they would like to vote for him, but that he needed to help reduce the price of food.
“I told him that things are expensive. We buy the goods from the market at high prices and our customers complain when we charge high prices. He has to help reduce the price,” said Rabodiba.
He added that Zuma promised to look into their concerns and he would address them during his Sona.
Rabodiba echoed the cries to deal with crime in the area.
“Nyaope and crime are our biggest challenges here and government must do something.”
Zuma also visited Belle Ombre Taxi Rank, before concluding his day at the Marabastad home affairs office. He spoke to refugees to find out what their problems were. People told him about the corruption that was rife in the area and the long time it took to get papers.
One refugee said they were forced to pay thousands of rands just to get help.
“The documents we get are sometimes not recognised by institutions. Banks and employers tell us to get work permits, but refugees can’t get them,” he said.
Centre manager for the office, Mfundo Gozwana, told people to come forward with evidence to help them to deal with the corrupt officials.