29 FAMILIES LIVING UNDER ONE ROOF
By: Zimasa Matiwane
Twenty nine families have been living in a deserted hall with a depleted roof in Umlazi W-Section for eight months after their homes were destroyed by heavy rains last year.
Philisiwe Ngcongo has been living with her three children and her husband in a small compartment divided by curtains for the past eight months. For Ngcongo, the safety of her children is her main concern.
“When South Africans were celebrating Freedom Day yesterday, my family had nothing to celebrate because we feel abandoned by the government,” she said.
“This place does not have doors or windows, we live with more than 50 other people. We are all unsafe, especially the female children,” added Ngcongo.
The hall, which is often used as a venue for funeral services, was used as a bakery more than a decade ago. According to Namisile Mbhele, also a resident, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) brought food parcels and uniform vouchers for children at the beginning of the year, which she claims, was a huge relief for this poverty stricken community.
Temporal structures are currently being erected to accommodate the 29 families. Jabulani Cele, an unemployed father of two living in the hall said, “We were promised jobs before the building of the temporal structures commenced, but none of that happened.”
According to Amos Dladla, a councilor of the area, the construction is expected to end soon and the families will move in at the end of May. Dladla disputed claims that he promised people jobs, “I am a ward councillor. I do not hire, that is municipal and contractor procedure that I do not interfere with,” said Dladla.
He claimed that the families previously occupied land illegally, which the municipality could not rebuild on. That is why it took them long to find alternative accommodation. Between now and May, the destitute families will continue to endure the unsafe and appalling living conditions.