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Inside Colleen Bawn's Makokoba township

by Staff reporter
13 Nov 2021 at 05:56hrs | Views
The sweltering heat in the mining area of Colleen Bawn, 26km south of Gwanda in Matabeleland South province has driven a handful of thirsty men to the local bar where they sit, drink and exchange cheerful banter.

There, they watch curiously whoever is passing by and any unfamiliar vehicle attracts their attention.

They stare unashamedly but once their gaze disappears through the dusty roads leading to Makokoba, a residential area Christened after Bulawayo's oldest suburb, the hive of activity begins.

Children are seen playing along the roads, some women sell their wares from outside their homes, others seek refuge from the blazing heat under the shades of trees.

The small, close-knit houses leave neighbours no choice but to be friends.

This gated community which is divided into different sections was once a farm which was later donated in order to build houses for the junior level factory workers of Pretoria Portland Cement.

Some of the houses have since been sold while others remain home to workers of the cement making company.

Beyond Makokoba are New Malawi, Khayelitsha and Mupedzanhamo/Mbare Musika, the heart of the community were residents sell everything from groceries to meat and clothes.

"Our biggest challenge is water. We don't have water connected to our homes and have to walk some distance to access it from the Jojo tank," said Ms Sukoluhle Ncube who lives in Makokoba.

She said it was hard work having to walk several times a day to fetch water from the tank.

"We're used to it now but it's a huge inconvenience. We hope our water challenges will be addressed soon otherwise it makes our children vulnerable to disease," said Ms Ndlovu.

She said a significant number of families living in the area survive on doing domestic work while others live on buying and selling different goods.

"It's the only way out. You need to keep re-inventing to survive. If you just sit-back and relax, no one will come to your rescue," echoed Ms Ndlovu's friend, only identified as MaSibanda

The area has a primary school, stadium, clinic, fuel station and a grocery store.

However, due to high rentals, some shops in Colleen Bawn have since closed as business owners were failing to break even due to low traffic.

Despite having visible security personnel around, the area still records high crime rates including robberies involving thousands of dollars due to the mining activities in the area.

"A lot of people don't understand why we love this place. It's home; no matter how rich one can get, home will always be home," said Mr Bongani Masuku, a small-scale miner operating in the gold-rich area.

He continued: "You know fast money is hard to account for. You can have tough days for weeks on end and suddenly win big but the challenge is how to spend it wisely. That's why people doing this kind of work need to be organised and not just think about buying cars and impressing girls."

On the opposite end of the township is Mpumalanga Heights, a private property owned by PPC.

The gated community has a residential area, gym, guest houses, private primary school and a club house.

Due to its location along the Gwanda-Beitbridge highway where high traffic volumes from South Africa pass by,

Colleen Bawn has the potential to be a brisk business hub with the right investments.

The town grew up around the Colleen Bawn gold mine. The prospector who pegged claim to the mine in 1895, named it after an Irish girl with whom he had been acquainted. The mine was opened in 1905 but after the Second World War limestone became the focal mineral in the area. The limestone is mined by Pretoria Portland Cement, who operate a cement factory on the site and have been responsible for recent growth in the town.

Source - The Chronicle
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